Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chipotle Kissed Red Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

I bought a cookbook last summer called "Fresh From The Vegetarian Slow Cooker" and have made this recipe from it three times. I have not made any other recipe from that book. I guess I need to branch out, but this chili is so original and so fun I can't pass it up when I open the book. The texture varies a bit each time I make it only because I'm working with sweet potatoes. The longer it does it's thing in the slow cooker, the thicker it will be, like in this picture. If you cook this for only 4-5 hours it will be a bit thinner and the food will be more defined, Which is more ascetically pleasing to the eye. Whether you like it thick or thin, the taste is the same. People who don't usually like sweet potatoes will like them in this because as with any chili, the whole dish takes on it's own flavor and everything tastes like everything else. It's a beautiful thing.

"Vegan Craig" Is staying with us for a couple days. He was never "Vegan Craig" but rather, just Craig until a few days ago when his wife called him by that name in a text and I laughed so hard, I've been calling him it ever since. You see, Craig is vegan now. He used to be rather large and eat a block of cheese a night. Before dinner. Now he is svelte, healthy and well...vegan. This chili, coincidentally is vegan, so it was only fitting that I make this for him while he was here. He left this morning sadly. Craig is a great guest. My husband and Craig have been friends forever and he and Sally, his wife, used to live here but alas, they moved a couple months ago. Luckily they are the traveling type so we will be seeing them from time to time for sure.

I don't like to label things as being "vegan" up front, or like in the title, because I feel it turns people who are not vegan off. I like lots of dishes that happen to be vegan, but probably wouldn't have tried them out had they been labeled "vegan". You know what I mean? Maybe I am the only one with this fear.

Chipotle Kissed Red Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
adapted from "Fresh From The Vegetarian Slow Cooker" by Robin Robertson

serves 4-6

1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, or more to taste
3 small sweet potatoes, (1 1/2 lbs) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
One 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 (15.5-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups water (more if necessary. You need to just cover all the ingredients with it)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, or to taste
cilantro, fresh tomato, red onion for topping (optional)

Add all ingredients except the chipotle chiles, into the slow cooker. Make sure you add enough water to just cover the top of all the ingredients. You can add more than the 2 cups of water if necessary.

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. When ready to serve add the chipotle chilies to the slow cooker and taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.

Serve and top with chopped cilantro, fresh diced tomatoes and red onion.

Keep in mind the chipotle chiles in adobo are pretty spicy. My kids can eat this with the 1 tablespoon recommended but they like spicy things. If you are sensitive, try adding 1/2 tablespoon first (about 1/2 a pepper) and tasting before adding more. The chipotles are what give this a pleasing smokey flavor so don't leave them out all together.