Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash

I made this recipe from Bon Appétit in good part because it helped me use up the raw butternut squash stashed in my freezer as well as the cracked wheat (used instead of bulgur) left over from another recipe. It was a mitigated success, but I’ll take all the blame for it: I made some modifications that, in the end, made the dish too bland. I reduced the amount of chili powder by half (which was not necessary, as my chili powder is mild), replaced an onion with two shallots, and omitted the chipotles. I also didn’t use oregano, which I could have sworn I had, but didn’t (I threw in a pinch of thyme instead), and ended up not garnishing the dish. I would have a few modifications for the recipe, however: chopping the tomatoes and using less water (I did the latter anyway, just because my Le Creuset has its limits). The recipe below reflects those changes. What I loved about this recipe, though, is that the beans were still a bit toothsome, and with the cracked wheat, it gave a great texture to the chili; I didn’t miss the meat at all!

This is a pretty big batch, though, about 8 to 10 servings, but it freezes well.

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 ½ Tbsp chili powder (or less, to taste)
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 14.5-oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes (chop the tomatoes)
1 lb good quality dried black beans, rinsed
2 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (optional)
2 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
coarse kosher salt
2 ¼-lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½ inch cubes (about 3 cups)
½ cup quick-cooking bulgur
sour cream (to garnish)
coarsely grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese (to garnish)
diced red onion (to garnish)
chopped fresh cilantro (to garnish)
pickled jalapeño rings (to garnish)

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Sprinkle chili powder and coriander over; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with juice, beans, chipotles, and oregano. Add 6 cups water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until beans are tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (time will vary depending on freshness of beans). Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir squash and bulgur into chili. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until squash and bulgur are tender, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide chili among bowls. Serve with sour cream, cheese, red onion, cilantro, and pickled jalapeño rings.

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