2018-02-01 / From The Garden

A Super Chili for Your Super 'Bowl'

By Cynthia Gibson

Football is always better with a homemade bowl of chili. A bowl of “Cowboy Comfort Food” has just the right spices and warmth, and is easy to serve. Football fans look forward to it every winter. A Super Bowl party without chili? Never!

We have heard of meatless chili, but for some, chili without beans is simply not chili. Kidney beans, which we can grow, are a mainstay in this fabulous stew.

Chili is a type of very hot pepper. And while hot peppers or Cayenne pepper is used in making it, the secret to great chili is in the beans.

Dark red kidney beans are the bean of choice. They are easy to grow and are filled with antioxidants and fiber. These beans are a staple of a vegetarian diet because they are good for you and taste great. They also contain folic acid, vitamin B6 and magnesium. One cup of kidney beans provides 45 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber.

You should plant your kidney beans directly into the soil by late May. They do not need fertilizing, as this bean produces its own nitrogen. The plants produce pods within three months. In the fall, allow the pods to dry on the plant. When they turn straw color, pull the entire plant out by its roots and hang it upside down in a dry garage or shed until the beans are dry and shriveled. They will be as hard as small stones. Store them in jars in a dry place. Humidity of any sort will make them moldy and cause them to rot.

Kidney beans are one tough bean, until you add them to boiling water or a hot tomato mixture with spices to make chili. They will soften after cooking, but will not fall apart. They will take on the flavor of the chili, but will hold their own taste apart from all the spices.

Chili has had a long Texan trail to the Super Bowl Party. In the mid-1800s, trail cooks would follow cowboys with their chuck wagons and take a mixture of dried jerky, dried hot and sweet pepper, dried tomatoes and kidney beans. Water would be poured into a large cast iron kettle and placed over a fire. The dried mixture of beans, spices and jerky was added, and after a few hours, the trail cook would have chili. It was also made without jerky, with just kidney beans as the main ingredient. Occasionally, deer, rabbit or antelope would be added to the bean stew.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. We have a Super Bowl coming up, so a good chili recipe is in order. Some fancy recipes include beer or wine in their chilis too! Families are known for their very own chili recipes, but those willing to break the mold and try this one will not be disappointed. It is simple, but so hearty and tasty.

Old Fashioned Chili

Serves 8

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced, seeded and membrane
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbs. all-purpose flour, or corn masa
2 tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp salt
(Optional): 1 lb. sautéed ground beef or ground turkey, drained
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
2 14.5-ounce cans crushed Italian tomatoes

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

Add more salt to taste, or Cayenne pepper, should you wish your chili to be spicier.

Place the olive oil, onions, jalapeño, and garlic over medium heat and sauté until the onions are transparent. Whisk in the flour and cook for two minutes. Add the dried spices and continue to whisk for a minute or two until the mixture is well blended. If using, add the sautéed beef or turkey. Add the tomatoes, stock and beans. Simmer over low heat for at least one hour, stirring occasionally, or until you can smell the chili cooking on your stove.

Make it a day in advance of the Super Bowl, so you don’t miss the coin toss!

Your garnishes can be interesting too: Shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled goat cheese, chopped red onions, chopped scallions, sour cream, Taco strips.

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