Sunday, November 16, 2008

Black Bean Chili with Avacado Relish

The weather is starting to turn a bit here in Portland, Oregon. For all the press we get about how much it rains here, this year has been unseasonably dry and temperate (global warming?).
It seems like as the weather turns cold I start to crave soups, braised dishes and chili.
As good as authentic Texas Chili is (meat only), I do like to play with this dish. Since I grew up in Idaho I came to know chili from what came in a can (with beans). My father was a manager for a family owned cannery and the company (American Fine Foods) canned chili, beef stew,pork & beans, corn, and a slew of beans (red, kidney, garbanzo, pinto,etc.). Growing up I even worked on the cannery floor one summer. The cannery had been in operation since the early 1900's and much of the equipment was antique. I remember pushing rolling carts filled with neat stacks of canned product into pressure cookers that were tall enough to stand in. The work environment was loud, hot, humid and physically demanding. While images of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" might come to mind, the people we worked with were a pretty happy bunch. Many of the line workers and foremen had worked for decades doing the same job. This is the kind of place where they would refer to someone as "the new guy" (this "guy" had actually been at the plant for 8 years).
The thing I remember though is on the days that we made chili we had USDA inspectors on the line to oversee the meat we were using and to watch the process. Imagine scaling up a chili recipe for a batch of 500 gallons. Forget teaspoons and ounces, we were adding jalapenos by the gallon and chili powder by the 50 lb. sack. As much chili as we made you would think that the last thing I would want to eat when I got home was chili, but I can vividly remember actually craving chili at the end of the day.
My chili recipe is a bit more exotic than the one I grew up on, but the taste still takes me back to my home and the summer I worked on the canning line.

Black Bean Chili

8 Chicken thighs -boned and skinned

Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 Tbsp. Cumin

2 Onions-chopped
8 Garlic Cloves-finely minced
2 Chipolte Peppers
1 Jalapeno-minced
1 Canned Tomatoes-28oz.
1 Cup Corn
3 Cans Black Beans
2 Cups Chicken Broth
Salt & Pepper

Cut the chicken into 1" pieces and then add to a Dutch Oven and sear until slightly browned, add the ingredients in the above order-add the seasoning to the meat before you add the garlic and onions. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for at least an hour.

Avacado Relish
1 Avacado-finely chopped
1 Handful cherry tomatoes-chopped
1/4 Red Onion-finely chopped
1 Handful Cilantro-finely chopped
1/2 Jalapeno-finely chopped
1 Lime-Juiced

Toss all the ingredients together in a small bowl. I like this to be a bit looser than my guacamole so I use less ripe avacados and then fold rather then mash the ingredients together.

Serve up the chili in a warmed bowl, top with the avacado relish and some grated cheddar cheese. With all the spice in this dish a wine would be overwhelmed. I served this with a Oatis Oatmeal Stout from Ninkasi Brewing
. The Stout was rich with a hint of bitterness from the hops and at 7.5% alcohol it more than held its own with my Black Bean Chili.


Foodycat said...

That sounds so good! I always put beans in chilli too - I only recently discovered that this is a contentious topic!

Heather said...

Damn, Norm, that looks really good. And a nice break from all the turkey going around. :)