It is definitely chili weather here in Saratoga County, New York. Lots of ice crust and snow that crunches underfoot and mornings where there is a bit of ice on the INSIDE of the windows. Luckily we have two woodstoves, two fat cats and one fuzzy dog to help warm our mammalian bodies, but to stoke the internal temperatures even further, nothing beats a pot of Spicy Lentil Chili.
Dan's been fiddling with various lentil chili recipes for a few years now and for his last couple of batches, he had the inspiration to add a couple of chipotles in adobo sauce to add even more zip to his creation. This makes one bodacious chili.
Being fairly small, lentils cook up quickly and this makes for an easy one-dish supper. We like this lentil chili served over rice and Cincinnati-style over spaghetti, but it stands alone just fine too.
My blogger buddy Gloria Chadwick, a prolific cookbook author and Head Blogger over at Cookbook Cuisine and Food and Flavors of San Antonio is having a monthly chili cook-off and I thought this Lentil Chili would be a great, vegetarian entry. The winners are eligible to receive Gloria's new San Antonio cookbook and a cool chile pepper magnet, but even more exciting is her offer to include recipes in another cookbook that she is working on. I made Dan write down his recipe and so I offer it forth as a very delicious meatless chili to help raise your internal thermostat.
Spicy Chipotle Lentil Chili
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
4 stalks celery, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 green peppers, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
5 cups vegetable stock (homemade is best, but any GF brand will do)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, or peeled tomatoes, squished into pieces
1 (16 oz.) bag dried lentils
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped (1 small can usually lasts me several months, so I keep it in the refrigerator after opening)
1 cup beer (we used sorghum-based Red Bridge for gluten-free dining)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Toppings: sour cream, snipped cilantro or parsley, shredded Cheddar
Heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven large enough to be your final chili pot. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes and green pepper and cook, stirring, another 5 minutes.
Heat vegetable broth in separate pot until boiling. Take out about 1/4 cup of stock into a separate bowl and mix with cornstarch until completely blended into a smooth paste. Add a little more hot broth and blend in well to avoid lumps. Add this to the sauteed vegetables in chili pot. Stir and add remaining hot broth, 1 cup at a time, to blend.
Add tomatoes to chili pot and bring to a boil. Add lentiles, chipotles, and beer and bring to another boil. Lower heat and simmer, 40-45 minutes, or until lentils are tender, but not mushy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top with desired garnishes.
Serves 8-10 and is even more wonderful the day after.
Gloria will be posting the January Chili Cook-Off entries after the January 20 deadline, so head on over there after that date to check out the spiciness. In the meantime, I encourage my Northern Hemisphere compadres to cook up a batch of this delicious Lentil Chili to keep your insides nice and toasty.