Over on my bookstore blog, The Book Trout, I recently reviewed the classic chilihead bible "A Bowl of Red" by Frank X. Tolbert. It was a fun and informative book, full of culinary history about the development of and different species of chili, and I would recommend it to other foodie bibliophiles. There are lots of tales about crusty chuckwagon cooks, "son-of-a-bitch" stew (it's offal), ethnobotanical aspects about hot chili peppers and "paper napkin" restaurant reviews.
With the continued cold weather forecast by that diabolical Pennsylvania groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, (Crockpot Groundhog Chili, anyone?) I was inspired to whip up a batch of chili to warm my family up. With the vegetarian emphasis among the Crispy Crew, however, I did not try to reproduce Texas minimalist chili (beef, hot peppers, spices) but a beanier variety that would clean out my cupboards and freezer. Alas, I had no dried beans or even cans of cooked beans to work with, but I did have a large can of baked beans in the pantry left over from a summer side dish I forgot to cook up when we were entertaining. I'm not a huge baked bean fan, as I don't like their sweetness, but I did a little experimenting and raised the heat factor some, and the result was pronounced delicious by my Upstate New York cowpokes, so here it is in all its glory. Just don't serve it up to any Texans.
Blasphemous Baked Bean Chili
Baked Bean Chili
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 zucchini, trimmed and sliced into half moons
3 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 cups frozen or canned corn
1 (28 oz.) can baked beans
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add garlic and onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add green pepper, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, another 3-4 minutes. Add zucchini slices and cook, stirring, another 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients, except for pumpkin seeds, and bring to boil. Cover and let simmer about 20 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper and extra hot sauce to taste. At the last minute, add pumpkin seeds and serve.
Garnish with sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese and a squirt of lime juice.
A great chili to slap together on a busy night from the pantry and freezer. Some of the beans melt into the chili sauce and thicken it up nicely and some stay whole for texture. If I had a can of green chiles I would have added them too.
I'm sending over a bowl of this chili to my Cook the Books blogger buddy Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her weekly Souper Sunday roundup and a second bowl to Gloria of Foods and Flavors of San Antonio for her February Chili Cook-Off, both convivial and satisfying food blog events.