2014-11-07 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

When it’s chilly, thoughts turn to chili
By Connie Wendell
Special to the Post

The temperature is dropping and the wind is blustery. We’re spending more time inside, which is great for cooking.

There are so many recipes for chili and I am sure each and every one of you has a favorite. I thought I had a favorite until a tried a few of these recipes. Now I’m not so sure.

Give them a try and let me know which one you like the best.

Two-bean chili with avocado

1 large onion, chopped; 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed; 2 teaspoons canola or olive oil; 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained; 1 (15-ounce) can black or kidney beans, rinsed and drained; 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained; ½ cup chili salsa; 1 medium avocado, peeled, seeded and diced; and ¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro.

In a large saucepan cook onion and oregano in hot oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes, beans and salsa.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for about 25 minutes. To serve, top with avocado and snipped cilantro.

Serves four or five.

All-American chili

6 ounces turkey Italian sausage; 2 cups chopped onion; 1 cup chopped green pepper; 8 garlic cloves, minced; 1 pound ground beef; 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional); 2 tablespoons chili powder; 2 tablespoons brown sugar; 1 tablespoon ground cumin; 3 tablespoons tomato paste; 1 teaspoon dried oregano; ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; ¼ teaspoon salt; 2 bay leaves; 1 ¼ cups merlot or other fruity red wine; 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped; 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained; and ½ cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (reduced fat or full fat).

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage.

Add sausage, onion, pepper, garlic, ground beef and jalapeno to pan. Cook for 8 minutes or until sausage and beef are browned, stirring to crumble.

Add chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, tomato paste, oregano, pepper and bay leaves. Cook for 1 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, tomatoes and beans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Uncover for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Serves eight.

White chili

2 teaspoons canola oil; 1 ½ cups chopped onion (about 1 large); 3 garlic cloves, minced; 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth; 5 teaspoons green Tabasco sauce; ½ teaspoon kosher salt; 1 ¼ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves; 2 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal; 1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans drained and rinsed; ½ cup plain fatfree yogurt or sour cream; 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions; and lime wedges (optional).

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, Tabasco sauce, salt and chicken to pan, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove chicken from broth mixture; cool.

Add cornmeal and beans to broth mixture, stirring with a whisk, and simmer for 15 minutes. Mash about ¼ cup beans against the side of the pan.

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken to pan; simmer 5 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Top each serving with yogurt; sprinkle with green onions. Serve with lime wedges if desired.

Serves six.

Hearty chili will warm you up during these winter months and it’s great for feeding a crowd. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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