Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Season for Chili

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

In autumn, chili becomes my comfort food of choice. I love the smell of sauteed onions and cumin blooming in the kitchen, and the way chili is such an accommodating dish. I throw in vegetables that I happen to have on hand - carrots, red bell peppers, a handful of corn for crunch. Some days I use pinto beans, on others I add a mix of kidney beans and chickpeas. Cheese and cilantro make for wonderful garnishes, but I never sweat it if I don't have them around.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)


A few tips...

My cupboard is full of spice jars. If I had to choose one to take to a deserted Island, I'd reach past the coriander and cardamom for the cumin. I'm so enamored by its earthy, lemon-infused aroma that I feel remorseful cleaning my spice grinder after I blend it.
Cumin brings a real finesse to chili, and if you've never ground it yourself, you're in for a sensual treat.

When fresh tomatoes disappear from the farmer's market, I cook with a supply that I stash in my freezer or I buy them canned. I recently used Muir Glen's chopped tomatoes in a pot of chili, and was amazed by their full flavor.
Muir Glen is a little more expensive than other brands, but well worth the extra pennies. Watch for it to go on sale.

Some times, I add roasted bell peppers to my chili for a smoky flavor.
Be sure to wash them carefully if you decide to toss them in or opt for organic, as their skins are doused with pesticides.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup roughly chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoon slivered garlic
1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw or canned corn
1 15-ounce can pinto beans
1 14.5-ounce diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper Jack cheese (optional)
Chopped cilantro (optional)


Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot on medium.

Add the onions and saute for five minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano and stir together. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the red peppers, corn, beans and diced tomatoes. Stir to coat with the oil and spices. Stir in salt.

Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes.

Top with cheese and cilantro (optional).

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)
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  1. looks yummy. i know this is sinful but i made a bean dish with bacon and then used the the drippings to saute the onions. people just gobbled it up (it was like water for chocolate) and there was no messy fat drippings to clean up! who knew onions would sop it up.


  2. I know bacon tastes fab but bacon fat will clog your arteries I am told. Perhaps combining with fiber would keep you from absorbing as much of the fat.


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