BLACK BEAN CHILI

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1 lb. dried black beans 1 whole onion, peeled 2 whole cloves garlic 5 to 6 branches cilantro 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste (3 lbs. canned black beans could be used

in place of the first five ingredients) 5 ancho chilies, whole pods, dried 2 chipotle chilies, whole pods, dried 4 teaspoons cumin seed 4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves 4 tesapoons paprika 2 to 3 tablespoons corn oil or olive oil 3 yellow onions, chopped 5 cloves garlic, minced 1 bay leaf 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt 1 to 2 tablespoons white vinegar 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped roasted green

chiles (Ortega is OK) garnish: sour cream additional green chilies, cilantro leaves shredded cheddar cheese

Recommended: Default

If you're starting with dried beans, soak them overnight in cool water to cover, then change the water and simmer them with the whole onion, whole garlic cloves, and cilantro branches until almost tender. Cooking time will vary with the age of the beans, and could be anywhere from an hour to 3 or 4 hours. Stir in salt and continue simmering until beans are perfectly tender, adding water if needed to keep them covered with liquid. Discard onion, garlic, and cilantro when beans are done.

Meanwhile, soak dried ancho and chipotle chilis in hot water to cover for about 20 minutes. When they are soft and pliable, take them out, remove stems and as many seeds as come away easily, and then puree them with soaking water in a blender or food processor. Press puree through a medium strainer and discard skins.

Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet until they begin to release their aroma. Add dried oregano and paprika, remove from heat and stir together in hot pan for about a minute. Then pour spice mixture into a stone mortar and grind it to a coarse powder. Add spices to chili puree.

Heat oil in a large saute pan and saute onions and minced garlic in it, with a bay leaf, until they just begin to color. Stir in chili puree, chopped tomatoes with their juices, salt, and vinegar. Add beans, with their liquid, and simmer mixture over love heat, stirring occasionally, until it is the consistency you like.

Serve hot, with any or all the garnishes, accompanied by cornbread.

Serves 8 to 10. HONEY-SWEETENED BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD 1 cup white flour 1 1/2 cups cornmeal 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 3 large eggs 1 1/3 cups buttermilk 3 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons melted butter

Sift together flour, cornmeal, soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, honey, and melted butter. Combine wet and dry mixtures, sitrring gently just until lumps are gone.

Pour batter into a buttered 12-inch-by-15-inch baking dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cornbread tests done.

Cut into squares and serve hot or warm if possible.

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