Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Slow Cooker Pinto Bean & Veggie Chili (Dark Days 3)
I'm a little behind with the Dark Days Challenge - I think everyone else is on their 4th or 5th post or so? But anyway, I'm doing my best, and I managed to squeeze in one more local meal in between finals (my last ever!) and Christmas. This dish was a chili, entirely local (except for the chili powder and cumin, which if I remember correctly are organic, so there you go) and mostly organic. After my last Dark Days disaster, I was really excited just to have had this idea (which also uses my slow cooker!), and even more so when it came out so good!
Here's the "recipe" along with my specific sources. All frozen things were defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. It made a little over 3 quarts.
Beef, Pinto and Veggie Slow-Cooker Chili
THE NIGHT BEFORE: In a skillet, saute 1 lb ground beef (Cherry Grove Farm) until browned. Set aside. In the same skillet, cook 2 chopped medium onions (Whole Foods), stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add 3 diced small carrots (CSA) and 4 chopped giant garlic cloves (Cherry Grove Organic Farm - a different farm than the ground beef) and cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to soften. Add 1 diced red bell pepper (CSA, frozen) and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 1/4 tsp cumin and 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp mild chili powder, stirring evenly to distribute it. Turn off the heat and stir in the ground beef. Let it cool for a few minutes, then put it in a container (ideally glass) and refrigerate overnight. Pick through, rinse, and soak overnight 2 cups pinto beans (Cayuga Pure Organics).
THE NEXT DAY: In your slow cooker, spread the beef mixture to cover the bottom. Drain your pinto beans and layer those on top of the beef. Next, layer ~2 cups corn kernels, from 3 ears of corn (Princeton farmers' market, frozen, probably not organic), ~2 cups 1/2-inch cubes kabocha or other winter squash (CSA, frozen), and ~2 cups zucchini, cut in quarter circles about 1/2 inch thick (CSA, from frozen). On top of this, pour 2 undrained pint jars fire-roasted tomato pieces (CSA, home canned) and 1 drained pint jar tomatillos (CSA, home canned). Fill each of the tomato jars with water once, and pour over the pile in the slow cooker (about 4 cups). Cook on HIGH for 8 hours. When ready to eat, taste and add ~1 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt, ~1 Tbsp + 2 tsp chili powder, and/or as much/whatever spices you want, to taste. Top with grated Garlic Peppercorn Jack cheese (Cherry Grove Farm) to serve. You can also top with cilantro, which I did have from a local source (Terhune Orchards), but when I finally got to eat at 9pm I just didn't feel like washing and chopping it.
The final product was just slightly more watery than I am used to having in chili - but I really liked that! The cheese made it even that much better. And I usually make vegetarian chilis, so the ground beef was a great touch too. I think this is a great way to eat meat - a small amount of local, grass fed beef surrounded by a ton of local and mostly organic beans and vegetables. The meat adds a lot to the texture and flavor for such a small input. After this recipe, I feel a little more confident in my ability to cook without a recipe. Maybe my best Dark Days meals in the future will be ones that I make up myself.