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.

Sweet Potato and Kale Stew

I have a thing for coconut curries with green and yellow flavours- tumeric, cilantro, lemon grass, cardamom, cumin. Orange winter squashes and root vegetables get elevated to new heights when their sweetness is offset with bright, aromatic notes. I make dishes like this often…. But this time I wanted something different. I wanted a wholesome, light, healthy stew with simple flavours and down-home appeal. This recipe started as an attempt to move away from what I usually do with big old sweet potato. The traditional herb seasoning and addition of hearty kale and split peas make this stew reminiscent of rustic French cooking… or that’s what I like to tell myself, anyway. My experience with French cooking is limited to the three years of home-study of my grandmother’s Julia Child cookbooks in my pre-vegan cooking days and a highschool class trip. Either way, this is exactly what I need when I’ve been abusing my body with too much salt and spice and fat. Good clean food.

Sweet Potato and Kale Stew

3 carrots, sliced thickly
3 stalks of celery, sliced
2 yellow onions, diced
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced, divided in two piles
1 very large sweet potato (the orange kind), peeled and diced
2 bunches of curly kale (though I’m sure any kind would do), stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup dry yellow split peas

Tied together with kitchen twine… or dental floss:
1 bay leaf
1 3-inch sprig of rosemary
2 3-inch sprigs of thyme
2 3-inch sprigs or parsley
1 tsp summer savoury

Splashes of low-sodium tamari
Juice of one lemon

Cook split peas according to package directions. Caramelize onions slowly over medium-low heat in a bit of olive oil. When translucent and golden (about ten minutes), add carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add sweet potatoes and enough water to cover all the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and add herb bundle. Simmer for about half an hour, or until vegetables are meltingly tender. Add split peas and kale, lemon juice and tamari to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until kale is cooked but still bright green.

This little one was very interested in the whole process. His brother and sister were somewhat less enthused about the strange lady making lots of noise in their kitchen.