Yay! Spring is here -- Happy Spring Equinox! Although it's Spring and the days are finally getting longer than the nights, there is still a chill in the air to remind us of winter. A nice, big pot of spicy, hot chili is just the thing to take the chill away!
I use canned chipotles in adobo sauce to give heat to my chili. These little cans of smoked jalapeños can be found in the Mexican foods aisle of most grocery stores. They pack a big punch so only use one chipotle (about 1 tablespoon when chopped finely) unless you or your fellow eaters like it screaming hot. The leftover chilis can be frozen and used as needed. If you can't find the canned chipotles, try 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of dried chipotle powder.
Another ingredient I like to add to my chili is chocolate. Yes, chocolate! Chocolate complements and adds depth to the heat of the jalapeno peppers and has been used in authentic Mexican cooking since the time of the Aztecs. Buen Provecho!
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, red or green, seeded and diced
2 stocks celery, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1T chili powder
1T cumin powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, finely chopped
1 small can of green chilis (110g) (optional)
1 19 oz can kidney beans, strained and rinsed
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 square (1/2 oz) of semi-sweet chocolate (optional - but believe me it adds a really nice depth of flavour)
1 package (12 oz) of veggie ground "beef" (optional)
Garnish with any or all of the following:
shredded extra sharp cheddar
chunks of ripe avocado
chopped green onion
chopped fresh cilantro
blue corn chips
In a big soup or stew pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and add the onion, pepper, celery, zucchini and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and cook, stirring for another 1-2 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up any flavour bits from the bottom. Simmer until the wine has been reduced by half then add the vegetable stock, chipotle, green chilies, beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you are using the chocolate and the veggie ground "beef", now is the time to add them to the chili and cook the mixture for another 10 minutes. Turn heat off and allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then scoop into your favorite mexican-style bowl and garnish as you like! You may wish to serve the chili with cornbread, which can be made while the chili simmers.
Corn bread (from my 1980 Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook):
I love this corn bread recipe and I've been making it for years! You can add 1 cup of shredded cheddar to the combined mixture, if you want to make this more cheesy.
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sunflower oil
Preheat oven to 425F. Grease an 8" by 8" square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and oil and pour all at once into the flour mixture. Stir until just combined and pour into prepared baking pan. Let sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, then bake 25 minutes or until golden. Cut into squares or triangles and serve with chili.