Oct 26, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Okay, this week's recipe is technically not pumpkin-based.  However, you *could* make it from pumpkin.  Although if you've ever tried cutting a raw pumpkin into chunks, you know why sweet potatoes are a whole lot easier, and they are really very similar in taste and texture once they're cooked.  Close enough.

And I wanted to include at least one savory recipe in this little recipe series.  They're pretty scarce, so this may be the only one.

I spotted the original recipe in a Penzeys catalog.  It was for a filling (without tomatoes) to stuff into flour tortillas for enchiladas; it sounded pretty good but I was looking for a sweet potato chili recipe to try on my family, and the ingredients  attracted me because of the unusual way of cooking the sweet potato chunks.  You'll see.  And trust me when I say it's worth the extra step - the apple cider vinegar and soy make the sweet potatoes much more flavorful.  This is one way to get your pickiest eaters to eat some super-nutritious sweet potatoes on the sly.

I provide some either/or options below so you can adapt it to your family's preferences and what you have available.  For example, I have a bottle of dried shallots from World Market that I want to use up before they lose their flavor, so I tossed a generous handful in with the potatoes while they cooked.  If you don't have dried shallots, a small onion or a couple leeks (which is what the original recipe called for) browned with the sausage will be just as tasty.

It's not often I declare any recipe a "winner" the first time out of the chute. This one has that distinction, so without further ado, I'm happy to share it with you.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

2 or 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into bite-size chunks (1/2 to 1 inch)
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used light/low sodium - regular would also be fine)
1 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons dried shallots or two leeks or a small sweet onion, diced fine
1 pound chorizo sausage (Not ringing any bells?  See my notes below)
5 cloves garlic, minced or 5 teaspoons diced garlic-in-a-jar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne (more or less, to taste)
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cans Rotel or (1 can Rotel and one can plain diced tomatoes for tender palates)
1 cup beef broth (more or less to achieve the desired consistency)

In a medium saucepan, place sweet potatoes, soy and dried shallots (if using) and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar.  Bring to boil and reduce heat and cover, simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  (Keep a close eye on it - don't allow it to dry out and scorch.) Set aside.

In a Dutch oven (recommended) or other soup/chili pot, brown together the chorizo and garlic, and leeks or onions (if using instead of dried shallots.)  When browned, remaining apple cider vinegar, cumin and chili powders, beans, tomatoes and beef broth.  Gently mash the sweet potatoes, leaving some lumps.  Add to other ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly through.  You can add more beef broth if it gets too thick.  Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and corn chips or saltines.

Makes 6 servings.

Footnote:  in case the word "chorizo" stopped you in your tracks, here's a picture of the brand I used (and would recommend). Unless your only option is chorizo links, look for bulk chorizo - it will be located near other sausage "chubs" in your grocery store.  If you have to use links, try to find a package labeled "fresh chorizo" and slice open the casing (yeah, that is as gross as it sounds) and scrape out the sausage into your skillet or pan, discarding the casings.  You don't want sliced chorizo links in this dish unless it's your only option. 

Happy cooking!

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