Chili is one of those winter comfort foods that make you thing of cuddling up in front of a warm fire place on a cold winter evening. I've always liked it but for years I couldn't cook it as my husband lived off canned chili during most of his residency and fellowship years and once we were married he wanted absolutely nothing to do with it for a very long time. Now, many years later, he's back to enjoying it as it makes him feel nostalgic and he's realized that the home cooked version is definitely an improvement on the canned variety!
The first time I cooked Chili from scratch I used a recipe my sister in law Saadiya gave me and was pleasantly surprised to find it was fairly easy to make. Of course there are many who swear by making it completely from scratch via using fresh beans and making your own spice mix. While I'm a big proponent of doing that and apply it to many of my recipes, there are times when I want a quicker easier recipe. I find that on some busy days these shortcuts still allow me to put together a fresh home cooked meal on the table and I love being able to do that for my family so for my Chili I often resort to canned beans, tomatoes and stock.
Chili is a very versatile dish and one which some of the worlds best Chefs have often used to unleash their inner creative side. Whereas many believe that authentic Chili should be just meat and spices with no beans, like the one that Texas is famous for, others across the globe have not only added beans but Kangaroo (in Australia), Moose (in Alaska) and Reindeer(In Norway) as per National Geographic . While there are many stories about the origin of Chili, the most popular one states that immigrants from the Canary Islands brought the recipe with them to San Antonio in the early 1700's. By the 1800's there were Chili Stands all over San Antonio serving Chili Con Carne and eventually, by 1977 this authentic bean-less Chili moved on to become Texas's official State Dish.
Although I love and cook traditional Chili and also on occasion vegetarian Chili, some years back I came across Sweet Potato Chili. Â While I originally cooked it because it looked and sounded interesting, today I often make it for it's many nutritional benefits. Packed with protein, fibre, iron and vitamin C this Chili actually aids in weight loss. The capsicum in the Chilies and Peppers increases metabolic rate, releases endorphins and serotonin, reduces sugar and fat cravings and boosts the immune system.When you find a recipe which has all of those health benefits and also tastes good it's a keeper! Pair it with my Super easy Sweet Cornbread Â recipe and you have a meal everyone will love!
The sweet potatoes pair well with the ground meat and beans, gently balancing the acidity of the tomatoes and the spiciness of the peppers and adding a nice caramelized taste to the stew. The best part here is that a few small variations can change the recipe to suit your needs, want it vegetarian? Take out the meat and add some vegetables. Want less calories? Switch out the ground beef for ground turkey. In all honesty I usually make mine with ground turkey but thanks to COVID I couldn't get any so reverted to beef, but that's the best part about a recipe like this, you can tweak it to accommodate whatever you're craving or minus a few ingredients and add others that you may have on hand.
1 Chopped Onion
1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 Diced Sweet Potato
2 Pounds Extra Lean Ground Beef
10 Ounce Can of Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilies
15 Ounce Can Black Beans
2 Cups Vegetable Broth
½ Teaspoon Paprika
½ Teaspoon Chilli Powder
½ Teaspoon Cayenne
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano*
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Diced Jalapenos
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
2 Cups Water
¼ Cup Chopped Cilantro
1. Saute the Onion till it becomes translucent, no need to brown it.
2. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
3. Add the Ground Beef and Saute till the meat is brown.
4. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the cilantro which is for garnishing, cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.
5. I like my Chili light and soupy but if you want it thicker you can cook it uncovered for a little while near the end so some of the liquid can dry out or if you're short of time you can add a little bit of cornflour to thicken it.
While the list of ingredients seems long, there's no need to be daunted by it as the cooking procedure is so simple. Add your favorite toppings to your bowl and you're set to go!
A few options for some alterations:
1. Using a leaner meat such as ground turkey, or chicken if you want it lower in calories.
2. Eliminating the beans and just sticking to the meat and veggies if you're not a big fan of the former.
3. Going completely Vegetarian and replacing the meat with some multi colored Bell Peppers and maybe two or three different types of beans.
Some topping Ideas:
1. Sour Cream
3. Shredded Cheese
4. Spring Onions
6. Crushed Tortilla Chips
Sweet, Spicy and Hearty best describe this Chili and I hope you try it and like it! Cook a huge pot and set up a topping bar next time you have a large group of people over and it will make for beautiful presentation. Make it your own by changing it up using my ideas above or trying some of your own and please leave a comment below to let me know how it went!