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Monday, November 10, 2014

Spiced Chili from Dry Kidney Beans

Chili is a dish that has as many "authentic" versions as there are stars on the American flag.  The only real rules to chili is that it's got to have meat, tomatoes, and chiles or chile powder (at the very least).  It can be mild or spicy, but it's always better when it's spicy, but deep flavorful spice... not necessarily heat spice.  I like both.  Obviously.
Depending on the location, it can include beans.  Some are very passionate about whether or not Chili includes beans.  I like beans, so my chili always has beans, and the beans that I choose for chili are kidney beans.  The variations are taken to another level by the way chili is eaten.  In Tennessee, the chili is served in a bowl with some tamales on the side.  Chili with a spoon, tamales with your fingers.  In Ohio, it is served over spaghetti with lots and lots of cheddar cheese.  In Alaska, they make it with moose and eat it as soup.  In California, you can order it over fries.  In Texas, they eat it with rice.  You can find chili in various places such as in an omelet, over a hot dog, over a baked potato, or even in a burger.
I like my chili with beans and over rice.. and with toppings that crunch and melt.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I want to tell you about kidney beans.  I'd never cooked them from dry before because of the high level phytohaemagglutinin toxin they contain when raw or undercooked.  You must cook them for 10 minutes at least at a high enough temperature for the toxin to be killed off, and I wasn't sure my crock pot would do the job.  If you're not feeling it, precook them in boiling water.  My crockpot cooks at an already high enough temperature on the low setting, so I figured at the high setting for a few hours would do the trick.  I did check to make sure there were simmering bubbles during cooking though.  Nobody was sick, so I will be using this method again for kidney beans... and they DO taste much better when cooked from scratch rather than from a can.  There is no comparison..  
Serves 7-8
1 1/2 cups dried kidney beans soaked overnight
550g (19oz) lean ground beef
2 bell peppers pick 2 colors, chopped
1 red chile, chopped (mine was Moroccan)
1 green chile, chopped (Moroccan as well)
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 medium tomatoes, chopped
5 chopped cloves of garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chile powder
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp coarse sea salt
2 bay leaves
chopped green onions
shredded swiss cheese
sour cream
shredded cabbage
1.  Place the soaked beans in the slow cooker with 6 cups water, 1 tsp of the sea salt, and the bay leaves.  Cook on high for 3 hours.
2.  Drain but keep 1 cup of the cooking water.  Place everything but the garnish into the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
3.  Taste and add salt if needed.
4.  Assemble with the garnish.
Make sure to mix it around in your plate, "unmade bed" style, before indulging.
Pure delight which is also comfort food at its peak.
This is basically Obama's Chili recipe that was publicized during the 2008 elections, but with a few additional touches that take it up a notch.
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