The other night, I had a yen for a hearty chili, so I put some black beans in to soak and dusted off a recipe from my new copy of The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.*
When the hubby got home, I conscripted him into making a pan of jalapeno cheddar cornbread, using a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. We had all the ingredients, save one: buttermilk. I know you can add a little lemon juice to regular milk and use it in place of buttermilk, but I also had an unused carton of cream in the fridge, and Google told me that I could use it to make not only buttermilk, but butter, too! Worth a shot, right?
I filled a mason jar halfway with the cream, screwed the lid on, and started shaking. A few minutes later, I was the subject of hubby’s ridicule, and starting to doubt that this was going to work, but onward I pressed. All of a sudden, we were through the whipped cream stage, and the contents separated out into a chunk of butter and some lovely buttermilk — huzzah!
We used the butter for the cornbread, too — delicious!
You just have to press out of excess liquid under some cold water before storing it, though; otherwise it won’t keep for very long.
But anyway, back to the main event: the chili! While the rest of this unplanned drama proceeded, the chili was bubbling away on the stove. I used one of the year’s first CSA tomatoes, plus a couple of sweet peppers (ringo and purple bells) to add a little extra flavor, and I was quite pleased with the result. The beans took quite a lot longer to cook than the recipe recommended, but I’ve corrected for that in my version. As for the end product, it was delicious.
It was hearty, a little spicy, and smoky. We all loved it, even Nora.
Yes, it appears our little Texas transplant has developed a taste for spicy foods — yee haw!
Black Bean Chili
Adapted from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook
2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over for stones
2 Tbs olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 colored sweet peppers, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder
6 cups water
2-4 dried chipotle chiles, or 2 canned chipotles in adobo
3 Tbs white vinegar
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp salt
Cover the beans with water and soak overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the onions and peppers and stir until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and tomato and saute for a couple minutes longer, then stir in the bay leaves, cumin, and chili powder.
Drain the beans and place them in a heavy soup pot. Add 6 cups of fresh water and stir in the onion mixture, the chipotles, the vinegar, and the brown sugar. Simmer the beans over low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until almost tender. Add the salt and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, or until tender to the bite, but not mushy.