Monday, November 23, 2009

Not Talkin' Turkey

Thanksgiving is only three days away, but this year I refuse to add to the Best Side Dishes and Turkey Techniques blogversation. I am still bristling over last year's stuffing episode. Bored of the perennial basic bread stuffing from Joy of Cooking, I went to the trouble of also making a sausage and cornbread stuffing. It was both completely delicious and completely untouched. (Republicans...I should've known.) Maybe your relatives are more adventuresome than mine, but if not, then I recommend you temporarily stop culling the food blogs - except for this one, of course - and stop dreaming up newfangled renditions of sweet potato casserole. Remember, it's only once a year that marshmallows get their place at the dinner table.

Better to leave the improvisation to chili (with apologies to Texans and Cincinnati residents), because chili, unlike stuffing or gravy, doesn't have to mark a special occasion. A couple weeks ago my parents came back from Savannah, Georgia, where they had serendipitously stumbled upon a chili cook-off. My dad raved about a sweet potato chili he tried and said it seemed like it could've been a "Diana Owen Original" (his words). I only wish I had thought of it myself! It sounded so good that I set to making one, and it turns out there are already about 200 sweet potato chili recipes on the internet. Mine loosely borrows from a few of these, but it is mostly a DOO (Diana Owen Original). Not to brag, but it's delicious and really good for you -- and it hits the spot when you're watching the Redskins break another little piece of your heart.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Chili
Makes about 12 servings. Like other kinds of chili, it gets better after a day or two. I've tried to make it a complete meal by adding kale for greenery. Cornbread is a welcome accompaniment, of course. I'm an enthusiastic recent convert to Alton Brown's creamed corn cornbread.

Whatever cooking oil you want, enough to cover the bottom of a large pot
2 large onions, chopped
4 large yams or 7 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
about 6 cloves garlic, chopped (no need to mince)
2 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground nutmeg
1 t ground ginger
1 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t chili sauce (I used homemade Mao Zedong Chili Paste)
zest and juice of one orange (sounds weird, but gives this chili a unique flavor and a great scent)
1 28-oz. can tomatoes, not drained (I used whole plum, but crushed or even diced would probably be fine)
1 can cheap beer
1 28-oz. can kidney beans, not drained
1 28-oz. can black beans, drained (so they don't turn the chili an unappetizing color)
1/2 lb. kale, coarsely chopped
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the sweet potatoes, spices, and chili sauce. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, or till the sweet potatoes begin to soften (add more oil if the pot starts to dry up). Throw in the orange zest and juice, tomatoes, and beer, bring to a boil, and reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Adjust seasonings if you want. Add the beans and kale and cook another 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and salt and pepper to your taste.


Jasmine said...

And I'm still enjoying the leftovers today! Thanks for a delicious chili!

DEO said...

Glad you liked it! Great to see you all.