October at our house means Monday night football on TV and a pot of homemade chili on the stove. While the players spar like bull moose in autumn and the NFL music resounds, I'm making sure there's something thick and meaty to fill our stomachs.
For those of you out there who staunchly insist that "real" chili recipes don't include beans, I'm here to tell you that all of my chili recipes have always included beans. It's a regional food argument and one that I've never understood, because I have never lived in a no-bean-chili zone. But the controversy lives on all across the country, as people enjoy their particular versions of chili while football games play out in the background.
This is my favorite black bean chili recipe, and it contains whole beans as well as beans whirled in the blender with tomatoes and chipotle. The blended beans add thickness to the chili, while the whole beans and the ground meat bring the texture. This recipe calls for one chipotle in adobo for a little heat and smokiness, but if your crew likes it hot, feel free to toss in another one or maybe even two. Also, I've substituted ground turkey and ground moose for the beef in this recipe, both to great results.
Feel free to customize this chili to your preferences. For toppings, I recommend jack cheese, crumbled corn chips, cilantro, red onion and chopped avocado. If you've never tried your chili with ripe avocado on top, now is definitely the time. You won't be disappointed.
Black bean chili
Yields 6-8 servings
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium red onion, diced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can beef broth
Juice of half a lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Jack cheese, grated
Red onion, chopped
In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, begin to brown the ground beef.
Meanwhile, drain and rinse two cans of the black beans.
To a blender or large food processor, add the undrained can of black beans, the diced tomatoes (with juice) and the chipotle. Blend until smooth.
When the beef is browned, add the onions and cook until opaque, 2-3 minutes. Add the spices, tomato paste and salt. Cook, stirring another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
To the pot, add the beef broth, drained black beans and the contents of the blender. Stir to combine, bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, 60-90 minutes, stirring often to prevent chili from sticking. Chili will thicken as it simmers.
Season with salt to taste. Stir in the lime juice and chopped cilantro. Serve with jack cheese, corn chips, avocado, red onion, lime wedges and fresh cilantro on top.
Maya Wilson lives in Kenai and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry may appear in a future column.