March 2, 2012

Chili sin Carne

Chili has been a staple of the American diet for hundreds of years, first documented by Spanish conquistadors in writings about their findings in Mexico, which included the dish chili con carne in 1519. Most commonly in Mexico, the dish consisted of meat endlessly stewed with spices, but the ingredients would vary when it reached the American west depending upon availability. Chili became especially popular in Texas, where they saw both the chili queens, who would cook chili in the plaza over open fires in the evening, and chili parlors, small dining establishments devoted to the dish. Currently, many current versions of chili seems a far cry from the stewed meat and spices, especially because beans and tomatoes are both questioned as to whether they truly belong in the dish. All conventions aside, chili, even without the key ingredient of meat, can be a great dish using surplus ingredients, which can be made ahead and either eaten immediately or frozen for later. Homemade tortillas are especially delicious with chili sin carne.

1 c black beans, cooked

2 c tomatoes, diced

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

1 summer squash, finely diced

1 c mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, finely pressed or chopped

¼ c cilantro, finely chopped

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp ground cumin



1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat and add the chili powder and cumin and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic, stir and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrot and mushrooms, stir to combine and continue sautéing until the vegetables are tender, stirring continually to prevent burning.

2. Next, add the red bell pepper and summer squash and sauté until tender. Fold in the beans and tomatoes, and add ¼-½ c water, so the liquid is not quite even with the vegetables, cover and simmer over medium-low, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Once the liquid has been reduced and the vegetables are soft, remove from heat, stir in half the cilantro and season to taste with salt.

3. Serve the chili warm or room temperature with fresh cilantro and additional toppings as desired.

Serves 3-4


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