Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hot Sweet Potato Chili

Warm soup or stew on a cold day does the soul good. It can be as affirming as a soft snuggly blanket and as filling as a big meal. It never hurts to also have a reminder from tropical spices, that spring will eventually come. This Sweet Potato Chili is adapted from a hot bowl of soup that I had in London recently. I’ve added my own touches, since I duplicated it without a recipe. All I know for sure is the satisfaction it brought to the chill in my bones with spicy heat and the tastes of warmer climes. It is true fusion food…fusion that brings together hot chili spices and island tastes. Sweet potato is the meeting point for the two worlds. I added a garnish of a lime slice, cilantro tossed with ginger and lime juice, topped with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Sub…lime!

Sweet Potato Chili

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium white potato
1 large red onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, chopped

3 teaspoons hom
emade chili powder*
1 teaspoon ground coriander

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15 ounce can pinto beans

¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chilies

1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
32 ounces chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
3 ounces fresh baby spinach

1 cup cooked brown basmati rice

½ lime, juiced

This is a vegetarian chili if made with vegetable broth. Alternatively, it can be made with chicken stock and shredded chicken for a non vegetarian option.

*Homemade chili powder is easy to make and makes a big difference in the finished taste. Once you’ve tried it you’ll never go back to store bought!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Peel the potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes and dice the red onion. Toss with the olive oil and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning half way through. Five minutes before done, add chopped garlic, chili powder, ground coriander and toss to coat. Roast 5 more minutes until golden, making sure they are roasted but not too brown. Put in a 3 quart or larger stockpot. Add the crushed tomatoes, pinto beans, coconut milk, green chilies, diced, roasted red pepper and broth. Simmer over medium low heat for 30 minutes. Add the spinach and cilantro and simmer for 5-10 minutes more until the spinach has wilted. Add the cooked rice and the juice of ½ lime. Serve with Cilantro Coconut Garnish. Serves 6 with generous 2 cup portions.

Cilantro Coconut Garnish, per 2 servings

1 tablespoon cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice

1 teaspoon ginger juice*
2 slices lime
2 tablespoons shaved, toasted coconut (unsweetened)**

fleur de sel or sea salt

*Ginger Juice Place a 1 inch piece of peeled ginger root in a garlic press and squeeze firmly over a bowl. Every one inch piece yields about 1 teaspoon of juice.

**Toasted Cocon
ut To toast the coconut, crack open fresh coconut (the right way and not the wrong way or the even more wrong way) and shave flesh with vegetable peeler. Place single layer on a a baking sheet and lightly toast in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Keep a close watch, as ovens vary and it can over brown quickly. You want it to be just lightly toasted.

Remove cilantro leaves from the stems and toss with the lime and ginger juice. Place a slice of lime in the chili.

Add the cilantro/lime/ginger juice mixture and toasted shaved coconut. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or sea salt and serve.

Diane's Fire Breathing Chili Powder

Increase the "fire" by slowly adding more of the ground peppers
1 tablespoon ground ancho chilies

1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper

3 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground dried oregano

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together, being careful not to breathe in the pepper. Store in an ai
r tight container. Makes approximately 3/4 cup.

Written and photographed by Diane

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