A Fine Time for Chili

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Chili Bean Corn Bread Pie

I love chili and love trying new chili recipes, but let’s face it — the window for chili-making in Texas is pretty tiny.  This fact just makes me enjoy it that much more.  This past weekend was unseasonably cold for February in Texas, and I took full advantage by trying out Ellie Krieger‘s recipe for Chili Bean and Corn Bread Pie.  It is a delicious vegetarian recipe with two kinds of beans, green chiles, and lots of spice.  The recipe called for ancho chili powder; I had chipotle chili powder on hand and it gave the dish a wonderful smoky flavor.  The best part is the very thick corn bread topping made with honey and buttermilk, which sweetens the whole meal when you mix it in with the chili.  I do like the fact that this is such a healthy recipe, but the extra calories added by including cheddar cheese in the cornbread would be worth it, so I will try this next time.

While I was happy that my husband liked the meal, I was most thrilled to see Romeo, my 11-year old Boston Terrier, stalking the oven while the chili baked.  He only does this when my Mom visits at Christmas and Easter (and cooks a turkey and a ham, respectively), and never for anything I cook.

Romeo, the Chili Stalker

Chili Bean and Corn Bread Pie (recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger’s “Comfort Food Fix”):

For the Filling:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp each ground cumin, dried oregano, and chili powder

1/2 tsp dried coriander

15-oz can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed

15-oz can low-sodium pink or red beans, drained and rinsed (I used pinto beans)

14.5-oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with their juices

Two 4-oz cans diced green chiles, drained

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For the Topping:

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 large egg

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

To make the filling, heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the tomato paste, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and coriander, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the beans, tomatoes with their liquid, green chiles, salt, and black pepper and bring to a boil.  (I found the mixture very thick at this point and added a few splashes of stock).  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro and transfer the filling to the baking dish.

To make the topping, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In another medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, honey, and oil.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.  Pour the cornmeal batter over the bean mixture, then smooth the surface with a spatula.  Bake until the top is browned around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the corn bread layer comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Makes 6 servings.

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