Winter chili: Sometimes you’re just too lazy to go to the store.

Today was very busy, and I went into it tired, which never bodes well. I got home a bit early from work, and we were supposed to write tonight, because we’re doing that now, so I put on a big pot of chili. We never got to the writing – we were both malfunctioning creatively. Fortunately, chili is comfort food, and so as we vegetated, we at least did a little something good for ourselves.

I make this sort of thing a lot, and there was never really a recipe until tonight, when I finally wrote down everything that’s in it. It’s so easy, and you probably have most of what you need already. It’s a winter chili – in the springtime, and in the summer, we’ll have vegetarian chili with bell peppers, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and things like that. This is a hearty dish making use of what’s available right now, things like the canned goods you have in your pantry and sweet potatoes. It takes a little longer than you may like for dinner on a weeknight, but it’s the kind of thing you can stick in a crockpot and cook all day, if that’s easier.

Serve this with cornbread.

Vegetarian winter chili

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped (about two cups)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, including liquid
  • 1 19 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 19 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 cup beer, such as pilsner or pale ale
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • Salt, to taste

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, sweat onions and sweet potatoes in olive oil. Stir in garlic, and add canned tomatoes. Reduce to medium heat.

Add beans to the pot, and stir in tomato paste. Stir in beer, add spices and salt, and simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Here is where you may want to add something like chopped chipotle peppers, or a dose of Tabasco or sriracha or something, but I didn’t feel like it. Had a spicy lunch.

Cover, and reduce to medium-low heat. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sweet potato is soft.

Serve hot, in bowls. This makes quite a lot, so divvy the remains into dishes to take for lunches. I love meals like that, that you enjoy in the first place, and that you can revisit later on in lunch form. It makes good sense, and it saves having to trek out into the world in search of a mediocre deli sandwich.

Speaking of excess, today I bought some burdock root. I have what amounts to eight feet of it, because I watch too much Iron Chef and am never smart enough to know when I’m outmatched by an ingredient. I’ll show it to you tomorrow – it’s a little ridiculous, and was a pain to carry home on the bus. I think I am going to pickle the stuff.

Have you any good ideas for burdock root? A Google search turned up very little information – apparently all of Japan is confused by the stuff, and only has one recipe for something called Burdock Kinpira, and since it’s been done to death, I’d like to try a new approach. If you’ve tried it and have some good ideas, let me know. I’m hoping tomorrow will be a thinking day, and that I will have my wits about me. Wish me luck.

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6 thoughts on “Winter chili: Sometimes you’re just too lazy to go to the store.

  1. Yummmmm. Looking forward to trying…

    My fave winter chili Cincinnati/Skyline Chili? It’s a meat sauce seasoned with unsweetened chocolate(!?), cinnamon, cumin, garlic & more–all served over spaghetti served with choice of toppings–I end up going with shredded cheese and oyster crackers.

    It’s super easy and can be made just as delish w/ ground turkey in place of beef.

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  2. Google “gobo recipes” for more options with your burdock. You might find more under the Japanese name than under “burdock.”

    Yummm! Chili looks marvelous.

    I do like the layout — very fresh for spring.

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  3. Lex: That actually intrigues me – I love using cocoa as a spice, and your recipe sounds kind of like a chili/mole/spicy spaghetti Bolognese fusion kind of thing, which is super exciting and I wish I’d thought of it. I’ve never heard of Cincinnati chili – are you from there?

    Mango: Please let me know if you try it. And thanks!

    Linda: Thanks for the tip – I found way more when I searched “gobo.” And thanks to you too – I like the new layout better too … the green was getting old, and I was having an identity crisis.

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  4. Re: Cincinnati chili, I also use chocolate and cinnamon in mine (but not in my regular eatin’ chili that isn’t destined for spaghetti noodles). I’m a California native who has moved all over the place. I think I first encountered the Cincinnati stuff in a restaurant and picked up the habit there.

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  5. I’m from Texas, I think chili is, like, our state dish! Down here, it’s not chili unless it has meat in it! I’ve used beef, goat, venison. Venison is by far the best! Use tomatos, peppers (HOT!), onions, & all manner of spices (cumin, oregano, chili powder, etc). I rarely make it the same way twice & hardly follow a recipe. We serve beans on the side & cornbread. A little touch of heaven, especially on a wintery day!

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