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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Extra Spicy Black Bean and Corn Chili

You can’t believe the mercurial weather we had here in New England last week. I’d compare it to a seesaw. For the first few days everyone was savoring that last hint of summer when temperatures climbed into the mid-eighties. But, by week’s end the thermometer had dramatically dropped more than 20 degrees, and people were scrambling to find jackets and sweaters to stave off the chill. 

I confess, I adore this first brush of crisp, cool, cool autumn air because it signals that it’s time to change from light warm weatherdishes to much more robust fare. I didn’t waste any time in creating a fall chili, one that has plenty of heat and an enticing smoky scent from a generous addition of chipotle chili powder.
To give this beef chili a shot of color, I stirred in some fresh corn kernels and opted for black instead of the usual red kidney beans.

This dish was simplicity itself to prepare, and tasted even better after it had set in the fridge for a couple of days, allowing the flavors to meld. You can serve it over a mound of cooked rice and garnish it with some chopped fresh onion, or let it stand alone. Hot corn bread and an avocado and mixed greens salad tossed in lime juice and olive oil could round out a menu. 

Extra Spicy Black Bean and Corn Chili

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups chopped onions plus 1 cup chopped for garnish, optional
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 to 4 teaspoons chipotle chili powder (See note.)
1tablespoon ground cumin
1tablespoon oregano
Kosher salt
3 1/2 cups reduced sodium beef stock
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
One 28 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups (2 to 3 ears) fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche for garnish

In a large heavy pot set over medium high heat, sauté the ground beef until it is lightly browned and cooked through, for 10 minutes or longer. If liquids collect in the bottom of the pan, spoon them off and discard. When meat is done, remove with a slotted spoon to a side dish.

Discard any pan drippings, and then add canola oil to the pot set over medium high heat. . Heat oil until hot, and then add 2 cups of the onions. Stir and cook until softened, for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir and cook 1 minute more. Return the meat to the pot along with the chili powder (see note.), cumin, oregano, and 1 /2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes, and bring mixture to a simmer.  Reduce heat and cook at a simmer until liquids have reduced for 40 to 50 minutes.

Add the beans and corn, and cook until corn is tender, 6 to 8 minutes more. Season with more salt if needed.  (Chili can be prepared 2 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate.  Reheat over medium heat, stirring.)  Ladle chili into 6 bowls and garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, and, if desired with some chopped onions. Serves 6.

Note:  For an extra spicy taste, use 4 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder; for less heat, use 3 teaspoons.
Spice Islands sells a good quality ground chipotle powder.

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