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Smoky Chipotle Black Bean Chili with Fresh Salsa

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Serves 6

  • by Susie Middleton from The Fresh & Green Table

Personally, I’m not so fond of “vegetable” chilis, as they seem to feature overcooked and watery veggies that were never meant to be “stewed.” So in warmer weather, I top the bean chili with a cool, salsa-like mixture of raw veggies like tomatoes, avocado, and corn. And in the winter, instead of adding vegetables to the pot during braising, I roast them separately and garnish the dish with them.

For the chili:
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. ground ancho chile
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. Mexican oregano
  • 1 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp. ground (dried) chipotle chile
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems and leaves, plus 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro leaves and extra sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo (about 1 small chipotle with sauce still clinging to it), plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce from the can
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes (do not use ones with added herbs)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 2-1/4 cups)
  • 1 large or 2 small green or red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed
  • Three 15.5-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
For the salsa
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. orange juice
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 to 12 oz. cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2 ripe avocados (about 10 oz.), cut into 3/8-inch dice
  • 1 small to medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 1-1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup raw fresh corn kernels, cut from about 1 cob (optional)
  • 1 small radish, quartered and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
For serving
  • 6 cups cooked white rice
  • 6 oz. crumbled goat cheese, queso fresco, or sour cream (optional)
  • 2/3 cup toasted pepitas (optional)
  • 6 lime wedges (optional)
Make the chili

In a small bowl, combine the ground ancho chile, coriander, cumin, oregano, paprika, brown sugar, cocoa, ground chipotle, cinnamon, cloves, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt. Set aside.

In a liquid measure, whisk together the red wine, tomato paste, finely chopped cilantro stems and leaves, the chopped chipotle, and the adobo. Set aside.

In another large liquid measure or bowl, combine the crushed tomatoes with 3 cups water and stir well.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions, bell pepper, and 1/2 tsp. salt and stir. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking until the onion is lightly browned, another 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and jalapeño, and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the dried spice mixture and cook, stirring and scraping until well incorporated, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste mixture and cook, stirring and scraping it against the sides of the pan, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the crushed tomato mixture and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until well combined. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook, loosely covered, stirring occasionally and continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan, for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the heat and reduce it, if necessary, to maintain a gentle simmer.

Uncover the pot and add the drained beans. Raise the heat to medium-high and return the chili to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low and maintain a gentle simmer. Stir thoroughly and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro. The chili will stay warm, covered, off the heat for a half hour.

Make the salsa

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, honey, and 3/4 tsp. salt. Add the tomatoes, avocados, zucchini, corn (if using), radish (if using), and cilantro. Stir well and use right away, or let sit at room temperature for up to 20 minutes. Do not refrigerate.

To serve the chili

Spoon 1 cup rice into each of six deep bowls and ladle about 1 cup chili over the rice. Top each serving with a generous spoonful of the salsa. Garnish each serving with your choice of goat cheese, queso fresco, or sour cream and/or cilantro sprigs, toasted pepitas, and lime wedges (if desired).

Make Ahead Tips

The chili is best the same day it’s made, but you can refrigerate or freeze it. Cool the chili, uncovered, at room temperature, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes. Then divide into portions and refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days. To freeze, refrigerate until completely cold, then transfer to the freezer and store up to 1 month.

Variations

Chili with Roasted Winter Vegetables: Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line two large, heavy-duty rimmed baking sheets with parchment. In a large mixing bowl, toss 2 lb. peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice, with 5 Tbs. olive oil and 1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt until evenly coated (or substitute an equivalent amount or a combination of carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, or turnips for the squash). Divide the vegetables evenly between the prepared baking sheets and spread them in a single layer. Roast for 18 minutes. Using a flat spatula, flip some of the veggies over for more even browning. Rotate the baking sheets from front to back and between top and bottom racks and roast until all the veggies are tender and nicely browned in places, about 12 minutes more, for a total of about 30 minutes. Top the chili with the roasted vegetables in place of the fresh salsa.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with Classic Buttermilk Cornbread.

Photo: Annabelle Breakey

Loved it! I added 1 lb. of extra lean beef and it was delicious.

This is delicious! It looks incredibly involved, but it really isn't too bad at all. It didn't take me very much time & I tend to be a slow cook. It just has a lot of spices, which takes up some space on the page. Definitely encourage people to try. I made for myself & 3 friends and we all loved it. I didn't have ancho chile powder & added a little cayenne in its place. I also didn't have any avocados. Still so good!! I will definitely be adding this to my cooking rotation.

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