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Thursday, October 25, 2012

(Yet Another) Chilli sin Carne

Gather round children, it's time - again - for yet another of ijj's "chilli" sin carne.

I say "chilli" loosely, because many people believe that a true chilli is only one which has meat in it.  So, by their reckoning, the whole concept of 'chilli sin carne' is oxymoronical.

However, I am not one of those people.  As long as there are some legumes and (relatively) copious amounts of chilli peppers involved, I consider it a chilli.

So... really, this is basically beans.  Hot beans.  Muy piquante, in fact.  I used four peppers.  Which is about three more than my wife would have me use.

I'm not one of those crazytownbananapants pepper aficionados, who will gobble up the hottest peppers they can find.  You know the jerks (heh heh heh - that pun just crept up out of nowhere!) - they'll ask you if you like hot peppers, and then make some perverse display of machismo culminating in their pretending to be completely unaffected by any heat at all.  

Personally, I don't understand being boastful of capsaicin tolerance.

I like a medium amount of heat myself.  When ordering out, that's my preferred choice.  When given a choice, it's usually between 'mild', 'medium', or 'hot'.  Two extremes, and - what can only be logically determined as - the median, or the chef's idea of what it should be.  

I believe that most 'hot' dishes are prepared deliberately, and with a greater holistic expectation than my own humble taste buds could fathom, so who are they (my taste buds) to dictate that a well-constructed menu item from a reputable chef should in fact be moderated or mitigated?

So, yah...  I kinda got off topic there a bit... sorry.  Suffice it to say, I can eat heat, particularly when a dish typically should have some, but I am far from one of those jerk-juggling Scoville-scoffers. :)

So, I don't think I'm being unreasonable when I make a spicy dish like CHILLI actually spicy.  In fact, chilli like this is more often than not served with mitigating carbs or dairy (things which help your taste buds to deal with the spiciness).

ANYWAY... like I said, this is really just spicy beans.  In order of concentration, this dish contains: beans (browned navy beans), tomato, chilli pepper, onion, green onion, garlic, toasted cumin seeds (freshly-ground), oregano (ground), and a dash of sea salt.

It's pretty simple to make, and although I like it to stew for a few hours in a slow-cooker, it doesn't have to.

I began, like with most things, by sautéing some minced onion, green onion, and garlic in some olive oil.

Then, I puréed one tomato, and four small chilli peppers.

Chopped up some fresh parsley.

And then added it all to my slow cooker.  Looks like salsa.  Heh heh heh.

Throw in a few more tomatoes, and use cilantro instead of parsley, and it just might be salsa.


I, however, added a large amount of navy beans.

And, let's not forget a healthy amount of cumin and oregano (absolutely imperative for the chilli flavour).

This is what my slow cooker looked like prior to cooking (slowly, heh heh heh) for an afternoon.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, this sort of dish is best served with at least a couple 'heat-mitigating' sides or accompaniments.  In this case, I served up a large amount of greek yogurt to be spooned on top, and I mixed up a batch of some tortillas to wrap it all up.  Together, the bland carbs and the cool dairy actually help immensely with a spicy dish like this.

So... this was delicious, but my wife couldn't take the heat, so I consider it ultimately a fail.  :(

I liked it, although I admit it was pushing the 'medium' heat boundary a little bit.

Let's just finish this post up with a little mention on how healthy this meal is, though.  Not only is it comprised of nothing but vegetables, these veggies are unilaterally accepted as some of the best out there.  Even the spices are good for you.  Cumin is supposed to be REALLY good for you, and even capsaicin is purportedly healthy in reasonable doses.

Indeed, sometimes I'm amazed at how healthy something as delicious as this actually is for you.

This is the reason I make some sort of chilli sin carne at least once every few weeks, rather than any love of spicy Mexican food.  

That's just a wonderful side-effect.