Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chili Sin Carne

As I'm writing, I watch pairs of animals waddle, slither, march and trot outside to an unseen destination. We've entered the thirty-sixth straight hour of rain, and the arc is leaving pronto. Me, I'll stay behind. I can probably finish most of my Christmas shopping before the dove swoops down. Actually, I should really finish, like, yesterday. In my enthusiasm for giving (or perhaps overcompensation for a year of frivolity-free shopping), I am way over budget and I'm running my bank account in the ground. But, damn it, I'll enjoy every step of the way to fiscal ruin.

The weather coupled with the my need to pinch some pennies inspired a one-woman chili cook-off today. Canned beans and root veggies are always in my kitchen for just such situations (Broke! Gloomy! Hungry!). I've been craving the stuff anyway, and thought I'd try to put a spin on an old standby. Sweet potatoes are the new cocoa powder to chili ingredients. There are a gazillion sweet potato chili recipes out there, so it's not as edgy and exciting to me as I once thought. But I still love the idea of those golden-sweet tubers rocking out in a bowl of tomato-and-bean-filled goodness. Boston vegans seem to tirelessly rave about the cashew chili at Trident Cafe; though I am nonplussed by it, I love that idea, too, and invited cashews to the party. And oh yes, there is cocoa powder in the mix. It adds a comforting, dark hue to the dish and a mysterious smokiness - and I was sort of out of chili powder.

Sweet Potato and Cashew Chili

olive oil for saute
1 large onion, diced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 celery stalks, minced
2 or 3 sweets potatoes (about a pound), peeled and diced
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, with the juice
1 15oz can red kidney beans
1 15oz can cannellini beans
2 t cumin
1 t cocoa powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups water or stock
1/2 c unsalted cashews

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno and celery. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, tomato, beans, cumin, cocoa powder, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour, or until the potatoes are tender. In the last five minutes, stir in the cashews (you went them slightly softened, but not mushy). Garnish with cashew pieces. Serves at least 6.


Emma said...

This sounds absolutely delicious. I think sweet potatoes would be divine in a chili like this-- I hope to try this out once the semester is over and I have a life again!

the cooking room said...

chili is always a winner during this time of the year. I'll definitely try this recipe. thank you for adding my blog to your list! :)

Michelle said...

Nice recipe, thanks for sharing! I love cooking up a big pot of chili, and in my kitchen everything that can go in it does!