Monday, August 13, 2007

Red bean chili with butternut squash and okra

So I really wish I would have had my camera for this one because in the end it's really a beautiful stew- very colorful. I made a couple of substitutes and it seemed to work out just fine. For one, I used Anasazi beans instead of kidney beans. They are my favorite beans and have a really wonderful, nutty flavor that is a little more nuanced than kidney beans, but still pretty meaty. I also subbed spaghetti squash for butternut squash because I had a ton that Julia gave me for free from her garden. The nice thing about it is you don't have to peel it like the butternut. I will warn you though, this recipe makes a fucking shit ton, so either maybe make half or be prepared to eat chili for the rest of your natural life. Thank god Nick's favorite food is chili. (he says that I took chili to the next level, and he is a chili connoisseur)

******ps. it looks like a big production with this long list of ingredients, but don't be put off, it's really super easy!******

3 cups dried kidney beans (or anasazi beans)
1 2-3 inch piece of kombu (you can usually buy it dried in a health or asian food store)
1 bay leaf (I usually get a batch of super big ones at the Indian market for hella cheap)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 large carrots, 1/2" chopped pieces
2 pounds butternut or spaghetti squash, in 1/2" cubes (you will need to peel the butternut)
4 stalks celery, 1/2" pieces
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno chile, minced
1/4 cup minced garlic
8 ounces 1/2" chopped okra
14 1/2 ounces whole canned tomatoes with own juices, pureed
6 ounces tomato paste
3 tablespoons blended chili powder
2 tablespoons rubbed dried sage (I used fresh because I like it better, minced)
2 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup tamari

Soak beans overnight with kombu. Rinse, add bay leaf and simmer for 30 minutes in five cups of new, clean water until cooked but still very firm. Try to skim off the weird bean film that boils up as you go. The kombu really aids in digestion and preserves the flavor of the beans so if you can track it down it's worth it!
Heat the olive oil in a separate LARGE skillet and add the onions and carrots. Cook through for a couple of minutes and then add the ingredients in about this order, letting them cook through a little as you go along; squash, celery, peppers, chile and garlic. Then add okra, tomato puree and paste, spices (except cilantro) and cook through about five minutes. Add entire mixture to beans with their cooking water (be sure to remove kombu and bay leaf right before!)
Cover and simmer for about fifteen minutes. The chili should thicken up and the flavors will really come together. Right when you take it off the heat, add the tamari and the cilantro.

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