Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Deborah Madison's Black Bean Chili

This month, the 101 Cookbooks Library is trying something a little different - a featured author instead of a featured book.  October's featured author is Deborah Madison.  I didn't participate in September (I didn't have much interest in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook) but I'm all set for October.  I already own Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and my mom got me a few of her other books from the library: the Greens Cookbook, Vegetable Soups, and Local Flavors.

This Black Bean Chili from the Greens Cookbook was recommended to me when I posted a question on the 101 Cookbooks Library asking for favorite chili recipes.  (I found it on this blog page when I was searching online.)  Since I got the book from the library just for October, I decided to kick it off right by making this chili on October 1st.

In addition to the fact that, well, it's chili! I was attracted to this recipe when I read in the headnotes that it's used in a few other recipes in the book, Black Bean Enchiladas and Black Bean Chilaquiles.  I'm not sure about the chilaquiles yet as I don't exactly know what they are, but the Black Bean Enchiladas sound great!  I've always wanted to make enchiladas and now seems like a great time.  I took a look at the recipe, and besides making the chili, it seems like it can be done fairly easily.  The enchiladas use 3 cups of the Black Bean Chili, so I'm freezing 3 cups just for that.  It will be a good one to try a little later this month when I'm more pressed for time.

The Black Bean Chili itself is a leisurely weekend recipe that took me about 4 hours.  I soaked 2 cups of my Rancho Gordo midnight black beans overnight in the refrigerator.  (I have about 1/2 cup left... what will I do with them?! should have just used the whole pound...)  I drained them and put them on to simmer while I did the rest of the prep for the recipe, as the instructions suggest.  Basically, the rest of the ingredients go into a large skillet to simmer for 15 minutes, before being added to the pot with the beans.  Then it all cooks for another hour at least, until the beans are done.  I used half regular paprika, half smoked paprika.  In hindsight, I should have used all smoked paprika, since the smokiness was not that strong, and this is a chili after all!  (The real reason is because my regular paprika expired in 2009.  Oops.)  I left out the 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper that the recipe called for, because I think it's gross.  Why use that when you can use a delicious and flavorful chile instead?  (I tasted a piece of yellow pepper before adding the mixture to the beans, and it kicked me in the face for just a second, so I definitely won't be missing the heat of the cayenne.)  I also used ancho and chipotle chili powders in place of grinding my own dried chili - just over 2 tbsp total, which is exactly what I had left in each plastic bag.  I added a diced yellow bell pepper, because I like peppers in my chili and I wanted to add a vegetable to this dish.  I used up the last of my fresh tomatoes, including an orangey-yellow heirloom tomato, and some leftover fire-roasted plum tomatoes that didn't fill a jar when I canned them earlier this week. 

This was a lot of work, but the few bites I tasted of the results seemed to be worth it.  With more preparation it could certainly be an easier recipe to make, just needing one eye kept on it as it simmers.  I'm sure I'll try this one again, and I especially look forward to the enchiladas.

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