Sultry Sweet Potato and Chipotle Chili

My lady over at IGVD shared her famous bean burger recipe recently… She says it’s my burger recipe, but in fact I am just the person who came up with the chili recipe that makes an approximate fuckton of leftovers that she got stuck with, and so needed to come up with ingenious ways to use it all up. To make matters worse, she added too much chipotle (despite my strongly worded warning) and so concocted this burger recipe to dilute that somewhat. Since her recipe goes along with my chili so nicely, here it is- my favorite chili! I have no pictures of it, so here’s something cute instead.

MEOW

MEOW

This is a pretty cheap, healthy, warming chili that uses the classic flavour combination of chipotles and sweet potatoes and then adds a healthy dose of seductive depth from cocoa and cinnamon. This is a true pantry dish, you can keep the ingredients on hand and whip it up when you have a crowd coming over or when you need a special meal. You’ll only need up to a quarter cup of chipotles in adobo altogether, depending on your heat tolerance. The remainder freezes well squished flat in a baggie, then you can break off however much you need the next time you want to spice up your rice or beans. If the chipotles are too hot, but you want some more smoky goodness, add some smoked paprika or natural smoke flavour. Be sure to use fair trade cocoa, preferably dutch-processed (darker in colour and flavour). You can substitute a couple of cups of cooked quinoa or even brown rice for the veggie ground round, just add some more veggie stock to balance the flavours. If you happen to live with someone who is afraid of vegetables (like I do), you can puree all ingredients up to the addition of bay leaves after cooking them, then return them to the pot and continue with the recipe.

Cans:

1 large can diced tomatoes (28 oz. preferably no salt added)

1 small can Mexican stewed tomatoes (19 oz.,or 1 small can regular tomatoes plus 1 tbsp chili powder)

2 small cans pinto beans (14 oz.)

2 small cans black beans (14 oz.)

1 small can green chilies (7.6 oz., look in the Mexican section of your grocer)

1 tbsp from small can chipotles (7.6 oz. Start with a tablespoon, and slowly go up from there, checking for heat as you go. Chop carefully with gloved hands.)

1 can corn (or about a cup and a third of frozen corn- add the juice from the can if you’re a big fan of corn)

oil for cooking

Veggies:

1 large peeled sweet potato, cubed into bites, about three cups

2 large peeled carrots, diced, about two cups

1 large yellow onion, diced, about two cups

1/2 a head of garlic, minced

1 or 2 bell peppers, whichever kind you like, diced, about a cup

stems from 1 bunch of cilantro, about 1/3-1/2 cup, washed well and minced

Flavour flavour:

1 veggie bullion cube (I use fake beef kind, more if substituting grains for soy, or to taste)

1 tbsp Ancho chili powder (or some other dark chili powder, not chili flakes)

2 bay leaves

1/4-1/2 cup fair-trade cocoa

2 tsp cinnamon

Soy:

2 packages veggie ground round, beef style (or substitute 2 cups of a cooked whole grain)

Garnish (optional, but awesome):

chopped cilantro leaves, chopped green onion, lime wedges, soy plain yogurt or sour cream, soy cheese

Saute the onions and carrots in a bit of oil with a pinch of salt over medium heat in your largest pot. When the vegetables are translucent, add the cilantro stems and the garlic, cooking for about a minute. Toss in the tomatoes, chipotles, bullion, chili powder, bay leaves and all the beans. Bring to a boil and add the sweet potatoes. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are cooked through and the liquid has reduced a bit, about 20 mins. Add the cocoa, cinnamon, ground round, bell pepper, corn, green chilies and adjust for flavour. This is where you may decide it needs more heat (chipotles or Ancho chili powder), smokiness (chipotles or smoked paprika, salt (bullion), or depth (bullion, cocoa, blackstrap molasses might do it). By starting with a conservative amount of spices, you can build it up slowly and hopefully avoid the risk of going overboard. Be careful not to add too much cinnamon–as tasty as it is, it’s supposed to play a supporting role in this dish, and can easily overpower the subtle flavours of the chilies and cocoa. Simmer for about 30 minutes, then serve it up and allow people to garnish their own bowl. We served this with plain, steamed collards, cut into ribbons, and Jackie’s tasty corn bread with margarine and agave nectar for dessert. Heavenly.

Life in Montreal/ Slurpy Noodles (aka The Best Dish Ever)

I don't know why Elvis has a bandaid on his crotch. Probably tore his pants moving fridges.

Native Montrealers flock to run-down, old-timey second-hand stores for all their home appliance needs. The stale cigarette stench and glitter-plastered interiors are just a bonus. http://wikimapia.org/1695232/Ameublement-Elvis

First, you should know that Montreal apartments don’t come with fridges or stoves. Fucked if I know why. It’s not like 19 year-olds rolling out of college have savings lined up for the purchase of household appliances. They’re lucky if they’ve got beer money for the party next weekend. To make matters worse, we have had some of the weirdest architectural rules on the continent due to a sordid mix of terrible policy making, the mob, the church, the police, and the real estate board. That story requires a whole new post, but the gist is that you can’t get an apartment in the Plateau of Montreal without at least a flight or two of sketchy, half-broken, ice-covered external stairs that you have to move appliances up and down every time you bail on your lease in search of a noncorrupt landlord (good luck).  As a result of all this there is a thriving circulation of used appliances working its way through craigslist, second-hand stores, and the sidewalks of the student ghetto on the first of each month. None of which have ever made it into my home.

After careful consideration of the broken-ass stairs up to my third-story flat, my roomate and I decided that perhaps it would be best if we just got a mini fridge and hot plate rather than doing the traditional neck-breaking rite of passage that the locals endure to make it into their apartments.

This actually works surprisingly well for us, by and large. She mostly lives off my leftovers, I walk by three grocers on my way home from work, cold beer is available right across the street til 11pm. We have a system. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough.

But right at this moment, only the second burner on my ancient hotplate is working, and the fridge is turning everything into inedible blocks of ice. Except the PBR. It’s actually making the PBR drinkable. So after feeding ice carrots and shards of crystalized arugula to Lady Rattington (the local cute fuzzy thing), my guy and I sauntered off to the store in search of nosh. An hour later, we were home with fixings for the Best Dish Ever.

My friends, without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to, literally, the best dish ever. What makes it so good? Let me count the ways!

  • It comes together in maybe 30 minutes.
  • It’s cheap.
  • You can get all the ingredients anywhere at any time of year.
  • There are a million substitutions you can make.
  • The most important ingredients are ones you can keep on hand in the pantry
  • It makes a ton or a little with about the same amount of effort
  • It is delicious. It’s literally stuff to write home about. People taste this shit and facebook it before they get to the second bite.

This is not so much a recipe as a serving suggestion, but I’ll do the best I can to make it clear enough for you to reproduce with reasonable success after a few tries.

Slurpy Noodles

Ingredients:

1 block Extra firm tofu, cubed
1 cup Dried shiitakes, soaked and sliced, or use fresh, or criminis, or whatever.
2 cups Greens- baby bok choy, soaked seaweed, kale, etc. I usually just go with one.
2 packs Noodles- the thick, vacuum-packed wheat noodles that stay inexplicably fresh outside of the fridge. They look like worms. Moreso when covered in saucy goodness.

Sauce:

1 tbsp Garlic chili sauce– careful, some brands have fish, etc. The measurement is a guide, adjust to taste
1 tbsp Tamari, or more at the end if things need more salt
1 tbsp Fermented tasty salty things- I usually use umeboshi, but fermented black beans work well
2 tbsp Mirin- preferably the real kind, can omit
1 tbsp Toasted sesame oil, plus more to drizzle over
2 tbsp Rice vinegar (use this to taste, be careful if using the seasoned variety cause it’ll throw off the balance of everything else)
Black pepper- I don’t know why, it just makes it for me.

Optional:

Peppers, bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro and lime, hot peppers, sesame seeds, etc.

For this recipe to work, all you need to do is brown your mushrooms in a hot oiled pan, then add the tofu to brown lightly, then add the greens. Mix the sauce ingredients together and add with the greens, toss on a lid to steam it all for a minute or two, and then mix in a big bowl with your noodles (boil them first to loosen them up, or nuke them in a bowl of water). Easy peasy.

Slurpy noodles

Seriously. You’ve got to try them. The tastiest worms ever.