Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

It’s been a while. I promise, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been so busy learning. It turns out that going to school, and working, and taking care of kitties, and blogging, is a lot of stuff to do. I wish I had a ton of cool Oriental Medicine tidbits to share, but so far it’s been mostly learning where all the muscles are – where they attach to the bones, and what they do. Plus lots of memorizing of acupuncture points. Cause no one wants an acupuncturist who puts the needles in the wrong place!

Somewhere, in the midst of all this craziness, I whipped up a pot of very special chili. Sweet potatoes and bell peppers and black beans. A bit of cinnamon (like they do in Cincinnati), cocoa, beer and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup. I promise this isn’t a sweet chili, ¬†all this just adds a great complex flavor. You’re gonna love it.

Oh, and I have managed to pick up one fun fact that I can’t seem to work into a cute story that ultimately leads to dinner. In Chinese Medicine, the lungs are associated with the skin; and the skin is even sometimes referred to as the third lung. After all, it does do a bit of breathing through your pores. So, a very insightful teacher of mine suggested that if you have lung trouble, then you shouldn’t get tattooed.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

1-2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 small chilies (a jalepeno is good for less heat, a serrano or 2 for more), minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds (or ground)
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1-2 lbs. sweet potatoes (2 medium, or 4 baby), in 3/4″ to 1″ dice
1 bell pepper, diced
1 c. lager, stout, or other beer
1 28 oz. can or crushed tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find ‘em)
1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed (about 1 1/2 c.)
2 T. maple syrup
for garnish: creme fraiche or sour cream, or avocado for vegans, chopped fresh herbs

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the onion and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, chilies, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Cook for a minute, until everything smells amazing, then stir in the potatoes and pepper, and stir to coat.

After a few minutes, pour in the beer to deglaze the pot (use your wooden spoon to scrape the stuck bits off the bottom). When it comes to a boil and starts to thicken a bit, add the tomatoes. You may need a little water to cover the vegetables, add it in now. Bring the whole thing to a boil, turn down to low, and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Stir in the beans and the maple syrup. If it’s too thick for you, add some more water. Taste and adjust the seasoning – keep adding pinches of salt until the flavor pops. It will depend on your salt and how much water you had to add. Cook for another few minutes to marry the flavors. Serve topped with the creme fraiche and chopped herbs.

serves 4-6

7 Responses to “Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili”

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  1. mama says:

    looks good..interesting tidbit about the 3rd lung

  2. Felicia says:

    Wow, this looks amazing! A really interesting combination. Will have to try it out!

  3. Laura says:

    Oh I would go to some serious lengths for a bowl of this right now. It’s the first day that’s necessitated some wooly socks around my parts. The complexity of this sounds wonderful and warming.

    And that tidbit about skin being the third lung–so interesting! You should sprinkle all of your posts with acupuncture wisdom :)

  4. This chili looks fantastic (love the addition of beer)! Interesting about skin being like a lung. Makes sense.

  5. Nicole says:

    Just made this! it was DELICIOUS. I used refried black beans instead of whole cause that’s what I had, and it was still amazing.

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