Well, I’m back – at least for another year. It has been a long time since I have been out here blogging or keeping up with everyone’s captivating work. I apologize to my blogging buds and I promise to do better.
I haven’t any stories of woe or melancholy to attempt to sugarcoat why I haven’t been here. It is really pretty simple: blogging is hard work! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Many kudos to those you who blog regularly. For me, keeping up with my blog became more like work than a hobby. Maybe some of you can relate. I write this with the grand assumption that someone is actually still out there reading. Aren’t I a presumptuous tool? Well, I have to do better. I do cook, all the time, so I just have to keep motivated to share some of the good stuff. Maybe some of the bad stuff as well.
But, really though, I missed this. A LOT! I love to cook and I love reading what everyone else is doing. So here I am, again, at least for another year to bring you what I got and to consume what ya’ll got. Fair enough?
As most of us across the country know, this has been a wicked, wicked, cold and overly wet winter. Cold weather is, for me, a great time for cooking. I love to braise, make stock, soups, and of course, nothing beats a bowl of chili when the wind is blowing, snow is drifting about, and the temperature is dipping.
Chili is one of those things that is quite personal as well as regional. Some people like their chili with ground meat and beans, some like just beans, some with meat – not ground – and no beans, and on and on… You get the idea; its personal. Hell, some folks in a certain region put chili over pasta! Sorry, I draw the line there. No offense.
The wife found a recipe in one of our food rags for black bean chili with sweet potato. I thought, hmm, that sounds delicious. I didn’t actually read the recipe. I just kinda threw it together. This was a very enjoyable pot of chili. I’ll need to keep the sweet potato out until the last 30 minutes or so next time so that they keep their texture and don’t become squishy. They actually added some serious body to the chili along with their natural sweetness countering the chipotle. I actually think I may add a diced sweet potato to my next pot of regular chili for the body and sweetness alone.
I chose lamb for this pot as opposed to beef because, well since they were, it was… I just put lamb in it. I found some lamb shoulder chops at Whole Paychex and snatched up a pound of ground lamb. We really like the two textures of the ground and the not-ground. Can someone help me out here? What do we call not-gound meat?
Those beans you see above are the wonderfully delicious Rancho Gordo beans. Those are the appropriately named snow caps. They, as are all the RG beans, in a word, perfect!
This pot was a success. I served it up with some nice skillet jalapeno cheddar cornbread. It still needs some tweaking for next time. And next time will probably be next week, as soon as my next batch of RG beans arrives.
Recipe after the jump…
Lamb and Sweet Potato Chili
2 lbs lamb shoulder cut from bone and into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb ground lamb
1 28 ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 sweet onion diced (about a cup and a half)
2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced
1 lb dried beans soaked at least 4 hours and cooked until tender (simmered about 1 1/2 hours) and strained
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic pressed
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Season the lamb chunks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. When oil is shimmering, add lamb – the not-ground. Cook lamb chunks until deeply brown. Remove and set aside. Add ground lamb and brown. Remove and set aside.
2. Spoon off any excess fat, if you want. Add onion, sweet potatoes, and a pinch or so of salt. Cook until onions are just soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add chili powders, cayenne pepper, and oregano. Cook for about a minute. Remove all and set aside.
3. Return lamb chunks to pot. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 1 hour. Add vegetables, cinnamon, bay leaves, and both lamb types to pot. Simmer for another hour stirring and tasting occasionally. Lamb chunks should extremely tender. If not, continue to simmer until chunks are tender.
4. Add beans and simmer for another thirty minutes.
Serve up with shredded cheese and chives.
Note: If the consistency is too thick for your taste, too bad!