Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Hello readers!

It's been such a long time, I know.  Apparently this is what you do when you wake up at 3:45am and can't get back to sleep - write a blog post.

To explain my absence in the blogosphere - it's sort of twofold.  Firstly, life is seemingly happening at warp speed these days.  The holidays are part of it as is the fact that my student teacher left and I've resumed control of all of my classes - planning, teaching and grading are taking up quite a bit of time.  (By the way, for those you who don't know me personally, I do not teach elementary school, the cartoon above notwithstanding!)
Secondly, though, is that I seem to be some sort of perfectionist.  (Not in all things, mind you - I built my house and there are plenty of imperfections there I've been content to live with for 8 years).  I keep wanting to get on a regular blogging schedule like posting twice a week or at least posting every Wednesday or what have you (supposedly that's a "tip to blogging success" and one way to become rich and famous through blogging).  I find, however, that I'm unwilling to post just because there's a schedule and won't write until I feel like I've got something specific and timely I want to share.  And even in those cases, when I know exactly what I want to say, it usually takes me so much time to write, revise and polish that I don't do it because I know I don't have that time to commit.  My mindset is sort of "if it's not perfect why post it at all."  This means weeks go by between posts, and you, my loyal and devoted readers are left hanging, in the cold, desperate to hear of the adventures of Sausage Boy.  It's worse than waiting for the next season of Downton Abby, isn't it?
I do know, however, that people out there are hungry for recipes, so I'm going to try and get over this hump of perfectionism and try to publish a bit more frequently, even if it's not groundbeaking culinary literature I'm writing here. 

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

That being said, I've got a fantastic recipe to share.  So completely perfect for this cold weather.  I'm still using sweet potatoes from our favorite orchard, Dickie Brothers.  The potatoes we have from them seem to last forever - the trick seems to be keeping the dirt on them until you're ready to use them.  (Special thanks to Sheila for this recipe, which came courtesy of
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 small sweet potatos, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile (Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. Ground chipotle can be found in the specialty spice section of most supermarkets)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed (or 4 cups cooked beans)
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat (I used my big stock pot).
    2. Add onion and potato and cook, stirring often, until the onion is slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
    3. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
    4. Add water, bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potato is tender, 15 minutes or so, longer if you double the recipe, obviously.
    5. Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often.
    6. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.
    7. Remove from the heat, stir in cilantro and serve.
    This recipe makes about 4-6 good-sized servings.  Being the family man I am, I almost always make large batches of stuff like this, so I at least doubled this recipe and ate this chili for dinner every night for an entire week the last time I made it a few weeks ago.  It keeps great in the fridge and I'm sure you could also freeze it for later use.
    I've finally gotten into buying dried beans instead of cans.  I started with garbanzo beans for hummus and used dried black beans for this as well.  First of all it's SOOOOO much cheaper.  And, from a health standpoint, no added salt and no BPA from cans, so I'm glad I'm doing it.
    As for the spices - I couldn't ever find ground chipotle, so the first time I made it I sauteed a finely chopped jalapeno before anything else and added it with no noticeable increase in the heat level.  The second time I made it, though, I substituted cayenne pepper for the chipotle.  WARNING - they are not the same thing!  The cayenne made it pretty darn spicy, which I loved, but which also explained why I ate it every night for a week - no one else in the family likes spicy, so I was the only one eating it.
    I'm sure you'll all love this - it'll be perfect for a nice cold day over the upcoming holidays, perhaps a nice warming New Years' Day meal?  If you make it and like it, let me know!
    Enjoy, be well and have a great holiday!

    1 comment:

    1. Just made the chili-so delicious and easy! It my be the only thing I eat for the rest of my life. More please!