Monday, September 18, 2023

Small Batch Chile

This is one of my favorite recipes. It's hearty and easy, can be as meat-heavy or vegan as you want, and is super satisfying. Honestly, a ten-year-old could make this, and it's also super affordable.

I make this in a small one-quart slowcooker, but you could easily scale it up to 8 quarts without changing the process at all. The process can be spread over a few days for easy make-ahead preparation. The final step only takes a couple hours of unattended warming, but you won't regret letting it cook all day while you're off doing other things. Reheats well.

Serve it with bread and milk, or beer if that's your thing.

The Beans
Any dried bean will do. I haven't tried this with lentils yet, but you absolutely could. Red beans, kidney beans, black beans, whathaveyou. Put the beans in the crockpot (or boil in a pot on the stove or a rice steamer for 3 hours; ratio of 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup dry beans. Lentils cook much more quickly, 20 minutes or so on the stove.) For a small batch, I cook 2/3 cup beans in 3 cups water in a one-quart crock pot overnight. White beans are my favorite. When the beans are soft enough to smush, rinse and set aside.

The Base
Rinse the crock pot out and put in a healthy amount of olive oil, one chopped onion, one clove of garlic finely cut up, and as many chopped chile peppers as you feel in the mood for (Storing chile peppers in the freezer makes them much easier to work with). Add at least 1 tablespoon cumin, or chili powder if you prefer. (Chili powder doesn't marry as well with white beans, but goes nicely with dark red beans or kidney beans.) Stir to coat everything in the oil and add a bit of anything that seems to need more. Let simmer on high for at least an hour to marry. When the onion is transparent, add the beans and stir to mix. Add any crumbled or diced meat you would like. For a white bean chili, I like to add shredded chicken, or to leave it with no meat at all -- it's still flavorful. Stir to combine. Add liquid (beef or chicken broth, or vegetarian broth, tomatoes or paste, or just water) to  just the top of the mix. Cover and simmer for another couple of hours on high (or at least three hours if the meat is uncooked), or 8 hours on low. 

Perfect for game day, winter snow days, and any time there's a chill in the air.