Can we put that in a bowl?
A bowl gives me license to settle into my favorite corner of the couch, cross my legs up under each other, cozy back, flip on the television, and lightly judge people who have chosen to put themselves on reality television shows.
It’s the bowl, thank goodness. It’s the gateway to settling back and in. It’s cozy and not matter how hot it may be outside, I’d still like my moment of daily coziness.
I do my best to have a pot of something or other in the refrigerator every week. It’s my very rudimentary form of meal planning but, if there’s an option in the refrigerator, I’m one step closer to eating something other than corn chips and cheddar cheese cubes. This is my most recent pot – just about every bean and vegetable, topped with spicy cornbread. It’s simple. It’s a very ‘Whatcha got? / Put it in a pot’ recipe and I suggest you grab your favorite bowl and have a good cozy sit with it.
Here’s what we’ll need. Feel free to also use what you have because really, that’s the point of a big pot of chili – it goes in the pot and comes out better.
• chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic – the base of any big pot of something savory.
• vegetables like red and green bell peppers and cubed zucchini.
• a tremendous amount of beans, mine were canned and in the form of kidney, black, and navy beans.
• a can of crushed tomatoes and a few cups of vegetable stock.
• corn, off the cob not on. Fresh of frozen.
• cornbread mix because Jiffy is secretly (not so secretly) the best and it’s even better with a good pinch of cheese and a few tablespoons of coarsely chopped pickled jalapeños. OK!
We’ll build in layers starting with olive oil warmed in a heavy bottom pan. Into the pot with diced onions, diced carrots, and diced celery. Garlic too because that’s just the way the story goes.
I made this a veggie chili thanks to this mountain of zucchini and red and green peppers.
I love the way zucchini softens but maintains it’s shape even when cooked down. And the peppers add a nice balance of sweet and bitter. There’s balance and satisfaction here and that’s what we’re going for.
Do you remember when Rachel Ray measured her spices by the palmful and half palmful? That’s especially useful when it comes to chili. I used half palmfuls of chili powder and cumin along with smoky paprika, sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
I like to add the spices before the liquid so the flavors can bloom in the hot oils of the pan before the liquid disperses the spice graduals.
All the beans, every bit of them.
And a big cup of corn kernels for tiny busts of fresh sweetness along with the tomato puree and vegetable broth.
Easy cornbread. It’s Jiffy cornbread mix with a good dose of cheddar cheese and chopped picked jalapeños.
That little blue Jiffy box reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen and it feels like a treat.
Scooped atop the simmered chili – the cornbread batter.
And the whole pot baked to tender.
(Please please don’t forget that all the handles are hot. I’ve burned myself more ways from Sunday by grabbing one of these Dutch ovens that I forgot was… in the dang oven.)
Spooned generously into bowls, over and over until it’s gone.
It’s a comfort, isn’t it? I hope this helps you settle down and in.
Photos with my friend Jon Melendez.Print
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup peeled and diced carrots
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 3 small cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 green bell pepper, cored and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 zucchini, diced (just over 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 heaping tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper (1/2 teaspoon if your pepper is already ground)
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed
- 2 or 3 cups vegetable stock, depending on how soupy you want it.
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomato puree
- 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen and thawed
- 1 box of cornbread mix (like Jiffy) + 1 large egg + 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pickled jalapeños (optional)
- chopped scallions, for topping
- sour cream, for topping
- pickled jalapeños, for topping
- In a large oven-proof pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onions, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute until translucent and slightly browned.
- Add the bell peppers and zucchini and cook for four or five minutes, until they begin to soften.
- Add all of the spices, salt and pepper into the cooking vegetables. Cook for two minutes, allowing the spices to bloom and become very fragrant.
- Add the beans to the pan and toss to combine.
- Add the tomato sauce and stock and stir to combine.
- Stir in the corn kernels and allow the mixture to simmer over low heat until the vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
- While the mixture simmers, mix up the cornbread mix, adding cheese and pickled jalapeños if you’d like.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Remove the pan from the stove, taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Scoop cornbread mixture atop the hot chili mixture in 8 or 9 dollops.
- Place in the oven uncovered and allow the cornbread to cook for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving. Don’t forget how hot the whole pot is!
- Dish into bowls and top with scallions, sour cream, and pickled jalapeños. Enjoy warm. Mixture lasts up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
- Serves 8