Thursday, January 21, 2010

Get it on the plate, girl

Chilly January weather calls for chili! While a traditional chili is usually based around ground beef, there are so many vegetarian variations you can make using different combinations of beans, vegetables, and grains. My latest version was inspired by this recipe in Food & Wine for Winter Vegetable Chili that uses hominy to bulk it up. I wondered why I had the Tori Amos song "Little Amsterdam" running through my head all day Monday, since its been years since I've listened to it. I realized as I was cooking it was because of this lyric:

"Little Amsterdam/In a Southern town/Hominy/get it on the plate, girl"

That's my job - get it on the plate! Hominy is corn that has been treated with lye, and you can buy it canned. This is also the base for corn tortillas, but the corn is finely ground after its treated to make a flour. The hominy in the can is whole, soft kernels.

This recipe is a delicious way to use seasonal vegetables. It came out a little spicy for my taste, but if you remove the seeds from the chipotles that would cut down the heat a lot. This recipe also makes a huge pot of chili! Derek has been eating it for lunch all week, but the leftovers will also freeze well.

Winter Vegetable Chili
liberally adapted from Food & Wine February, 2010
4 Tbls olive oil, divided
1 1/2 - 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded
1 medium onion, chopped
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2"pieces
1 Tbl chile powder
1 Tbl ground cumin
salt & pepper
2 Tbls unsweetened cocoa powder
1 x 28 oz. can peeled whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 - 3 canned chipotle peppers (with or without seeds depending on heat preference), plus 2 Tbls adobo sauce
2 cups water
1 x 14 oz can hominy, drained
1 x 14 oz can red kidney beans, drianed
chopped cilantro and sour cream or greek yogurt for serving

Preheat oven to 400º

Toss butternut squash with 2 Tbls olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a baking pan until just tender and lightly browned, about 20 - 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbls olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add red pepper, carrots, and sweet potato and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in chile powder, cumin, and cocoa powder and season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute more.

Meanwhile, puree tomatoes with juices, chipotles and adobo and water in blender until smooth. Add mixture to dutch oven along with hominy and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over medium-low heat until thickened and vegetables are tender.

Serve topped with chopped cilantro and sour cream or greek yogurt.

I usually like to serve cornbread with chili, and this time decided to spice my cornbread up a bit. I got a madeline pan for Christmas, and since I don't make little tea cakes too often, I thought it would be the perfect vehicle for individual cornbread madelines. I also added some chopped green onion and chipotles for a little kick.

Green Onion Chipotle Cornbread Madelines
1 cup cornmeal (I like Bob's Red Mill course ground cornmeal)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sucanat (or sugar)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
3 Tbls unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 green onions, chopped
3 chipotles in adobo, seeds and sauce scraped, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400º

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a medium bowl. Add egg, milk and butter and stir until just combined. Stir in green onion and chipotles.

Fill a greased Madeline pan with batter, filling each cup not quite to the top. Or, fill a greased 9" square baking pan with batter. Bake for about 15 minutes, until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Watch carefully as these cook fast! Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely or slightly warm.

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