There really is no explanation needed for the meal pictured above.
It’s Winter. It’s cold out, it gets dark much too early, and most often, leads to cravings for warm, hearty soups and stews. Now, I know that there are a kazillion chili recipes out there, and this might not look like anything special. But it was definitely the best pot of chili I’ve ever made, and so I thought I’d share what went into it. And the cornbread? Chili’s most reliable wingman.
About a year ago, I started adding cocoa into my chili after reading a recipe by Deb from Smitten Kitchen. It might sound strange at first, but the cocoa adds a beautiful richness to the chili. I haven’t made a batch without it since. Don’t be afraid – give it a shot! I promise the chili won’t taste like a chocolate bar. Even though that would be pretty awesome.
Can you believe that I used to hate cornbread?! I claimed that it was disgusting and dry…and then came to the realization that the last time I ate cornbread was at a rather questionable establishment, and that perhaps I should try making my own. Guided by reliable sources, such as Ree and Jenna, I realized that it ain’t so bad. In fact, it’s really good! Now me and cornbread are likethis. This particular cornbread recipe gets a little extra somethin’ from the addition of some sharp cheddar cheese. Served warm with butter and a drizzle of honey. Total magic. For realsies.
Friends, if you’re looking for a comforting meal this winter, give this dynamic duo a try. Maybe this weekend? I hear there’s a big football game on…or something like that…and chili is wicked sports party food! Alongside a pint (or four) of beer, you just can’t go wrong.
Black Bean Chili
2 TBSP. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium zucchini, cut into small chunks
2 carrots, chopped small
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
4 TBSP. chili powder
2 TBSP. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 TBSP. cocoa
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can brown beans in tomato sauce
2 TBSP. tomato paste
In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and add the onions, cooking for a few minutes, until soft. Add in the garlic, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms and cook for a few minutes longer. Add in the spices, cooking for a minute more. Add the tomatoes, beans, and tomato paste and stir well to combine. Allow everything to simmer for at least 30 minutes (longer if possible), stirring occasionally. This is the perfect time to prepare the cornbread!
PS. I added the zucchini, carrots and mushrooms for extra bulk and nutrition, but feel free to substitute for whatever tickles your fancy.
Cheddar Cornbread (adapted ever-so-slightly from Eat Live Run)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 (heaping) cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk*
1/4 cup butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, cheese, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter and mix well to combine. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately with butter and honey (and chili)!
*If you don’t have buttermilk, combine 1 cup of milk with 1 TBSP. white vinegar and allow to sit for a few minutes before adding to the rest of the ingredients. Instant buttermilk!