Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Black Bean Chili

I do not get sick often so when it does happen, I crave warm, nourishing, spicy foods. When I was a teenager I got hooked on the healing properties of spicy food. I have distinct and beautiful memories of my mother giving me a plate of spaghetti doused in jalapeno pepper juice when I was under the weather and congested up to my gills. This may seem like an odd combination, but one should never underestimate pepper juice and its singular ability to clear clogged nasal passages.

One of my favorite and now-defunct restaurants, The Normaltown Cafe, stocked all of its tables with pepper juice, right next to the usual suspects of salt, pepper and Tabasco. This is one of the many things to love about the South. Normaltown Cafe was the master of the meat and three, and it was nearly impossible to eat there without ordering their beautiful (and gas-inducing) cabbage. The cabbage became spectacular when it was drowned in the pepper juice. I was known to upend the juice over my plate and squirt everything but the cobbler.

In addition to the physical healing, there are numerous scientific studies regarding the emotional well-being of those who eat large quantities of hot peppers. Endorphins are released when the taste buds are screaming, and this is good for all manner of down-and-outness. Healing on all fronts would be much appreciated right now.


BLACK BEAN CHILI, serves 6 -8
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 poblano peppers (or 1 bell pepper), seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can Mexican-style diced tomatoes, liquid included 
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 Tbs hot sauce
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the peppers and saute until tender, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until thick.
  7. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and extra hot sauce, if desired.

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