Without knowing that I was repeating myself, I found myself saving this recipe in multiple places… a clipping from the paper, on my phone, on the computer… It was so (repeatedly) appealing to me! 🙂 I moved it to the top of my list.
This healthy chili has wonderful texture from dried pinto beans and contrasting sweet and creamy butternut squash. The use of dried beans requires extra planning but is completely worth the textural benefit in the final dish. It was mildly spicy (perfect for all palates in my house!) and tasty. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. We ate it garnished with a blend of grated Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheeses… mmmm…. with green salad and Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread on the side. Great!
For the Simmered Pintos:
Yield: Serves 6
- 1 pound (about 2 1/4 cups) pinto beans, washed and picked over for stones, soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight in 2 quarts water
- 1 medium onion, cut in half
- 2 to 4 large garlic cloves (to taste), minced
- 1 bay leaf
- coarse salt, to taste (at least 1 teaspoon per quart of water used)
- Place pre-soaked beans and (2 quarts) of soaking water in a large, heavy pot. Add halved onion and bring to a gentle boil.
- Skim off any foam that rises, then add garlic and bay leaf, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
- Add salt and continue to simmer another 1 1/2 hours, until beans are quite soft and broth is thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust salt. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove and discard onion and bay leaf.
- For the best flavor refrigerate overnight.
Advance preparation: The cooked beans will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and freeze well.
For the Chili:
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
- 1 recipe simmered pintos (recipe above)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut in small dice
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons mild ground chili (or to taste: use hot, or use more) (I used standard chili powder)
- 1 tablespoon lightly toasted cumin seeds, ground
- 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
- 2 cups diced winter squash (about 3/4 pound) (I used butternut)
- coarse salt, to taste
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- grated cheddar or Monterey Jack, or crumbled queso fresco for garnish, optional (I used a blend of cheddar & Monterey Jack)
- Heat the beans (simmered pintos) on top of the stove in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy nonstick skillet and add the onion, carrot and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to color, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, stir together until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add the ground chili and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture begins to stick to the pan.
- Add the tomatoes and oregano, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is beginning to stick to the pan, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste dissolved in water and bring back to a simmer. Season with salt to taste and simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fragrant.
- Stir the tomato mixture into the beans. Add the winter squash and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer, stirring often, for 30 to 45 minutes. It is important to stir often so that the chili doesn’t settle and stick to the bottom of the pot. It should be thick; if you desire you can thin out with water. Taste and adjust salt.
- Shortly before serving stir in the cilantro and simmer for 5 minutes. Spoon into bowls. If you wish, top with grated cheeses.
Advance preparation: The simmered beans can be made 3 or 4 days ahead and the chili will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. You will probably want to thin it out with water is it will continue to thicken. It freezes well.
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