06 March 2012

Cook's Illustrated - Black Bean Chili

I swear I make so many soups and stews that I should start another blog that's devoted to just those types of recipes! I make so many soups and stews that I'm running out of different bowls to use when I photograph a serving for a post! The women in the area consignmnent stores know me now and aim me in the direction of new stock when I walk through their doors! No kidding! One gal calls me 'the dish and platter girl' ...I suppose it could be worse...

These are the latest little finds ... they hold just about a cup and half . Perfect portion for a nice hot lunch ... don't you think? If the truth be told, they're probably salad bowls or dessert bowls, but I will use them for my soups and stews! They look pretty with my ancient Corningware plates. Yes, they were a good buy. To boot, I found some silverplate spoons and the sweetest little pickle fork ... yup, I'll be dressing up the photos a little bit from the usual dishes and spoons!

Now to fill them up! I am craving a good bowl of chili and the latest Cook's Illustrated magazine was devoted to different soups and stews so... I thought I'd make their 'slow cooker black bean chili' recipe and pass judgement over lunch. I'm going to splurge and make a pan of cornbread too, because what's a bowl of black bean chili without cornbread ?  Back to the chili, though, the recipe calls for slow-cooking black beans that you have not soaked, reserving some of the aromatic onions and peppers and adding them at the end of the cook time so that the chili has some 'bite' to its consistency, and smashing a can of black beans to make a thicker chili sauce. There's bacon and ham in this chili too; the bacon is crisped at first. Its fat is used to saute the onions, garlic, and peppers before adding the beans and broth. The crispy bacon goes in also to flavour the cooking beans. Later, ham is added and then shredded and popped back in when you add the reserved peppers, onions and lime juice. Hmmm ... let's just see about all this!

Okay, so the verdict's in ... this is a worthy bowl of chili! The shredded ham is a nice change from our usual beef or venison. It has a nice smoky flavour and the fire roasted tomatoes (my twist)  are the icing on the cake. Silent Bob wished it was a bit thicker, as the chili broth is chicken broth-based. I told him we could remedy that by adding a bit of tomato paste to help thicken things up a bit, but between you and me? I liked the broth just as it is here. The lime juice added at the tail end maintains its zing and doesn't get lost. The addition of the cilantro (the more the better!) and grated Monterey Jack is a good move. Pardon my sour cream ... I needed it. What can I say? Keeper recipe, folks! I guess those folks in the test kitchen earn their bucks!

As for the cornbread? It's a conventional buttermilk batter recipe that has one cup of grated Cheddar added and a generous sprinkling of smoked paprika atop before it's baked. Served warm, it needs no butter. Just break off chunks and dunk in that broth ... Tex-Mex heaven! Buy the magazine! I'd share the recipe here, but I feel funny about ripping off a recipe that's still on the newstands. What can I say?


  1. I haven't noticed that issue yet and I thought I was up on all the Cook's Illustrated magazines! That's my kind of soup and sour cream on top for me too. Love your new dishes!

  2. That's a very pretty bowl, Susan. I know how it feels when you're rummaging for different dishes to use as props for your pictures. I have the same dilemma and I need to grow my humble collection. The soup looks pretty amazing and sounds delicious!

  3. oh bella, I'm just the opposite, I don't make ENOUGH soups and stews LOL....and have much to learn....it's always such a TREAT to visit your blog. I hope you are just blue skying right now and that your days are filled with sunshine xoxo j

  4. I love your bowls and this chili sounds other worldly good. Cook's is terrific but I hate that they claim to be the best - even if they are :-). Have a wonderful evening. Blessings...Mary.

  5. Love your bowls and that book would go very well at my house.

  6. Their recipes always seem to come out beautifully!


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