I always get excited when I wonder, “What am I going to feed myself?” and I remember that I have all the ingredients for this recipe waiting in my kitchen – which I usually do. With so little effort I can set this chili in motion while I take care of everything else, and with only an occasional stir, it is suddenly ready to feed me. Love. Kind of like baking sweet potatoes, which are, by the way, delicious alongside this dish too,
Pretty much everything is optional here, except the chili powder and the tomatoes, although arguably you could get along without them too and just add other spice. Although then it technically may not be chili…
This is my favorite combo, although garbanzo beans fit in nicely as well. I tend to serve it over yellow corn grits/polenta, although you could have it alone, with cornbread, or over rice. Toppings as far as your imagination will take you.
You may want to go easy on the chili powder and jalapeno at first, as every pepper and powder ends up being a little different. You can always add more spice at the end, but you cannot take it away. Yet you can balance it with grated cheese or sour cream if that’s your fancy.
Play with it! Let me know if you come up with something good.
1 Tablespoon butter or oil
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds or powder
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
½ – 1 fresh jalapeno, diced
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can corn
1 15-oz can black beans
1 15-oz can pinto beans
1 15-oz can kidney beans
2 teaspoons – 1 ½ Tablespoons chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon red or white wine or apple cider vinegar
3-4 cups kale chopped into bite sized pieces
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups yellow corn grits/polenta (I buy Bob’s Red Mill rand in a bag in the gluten free section)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 teaspoon salt
Heat on medium high a pot large enough to fit all of the ingredients. Add butter or oil, once runny add cumin seeds if using. Wait if using cumin powder. Once seeds are fragrant, add garlic and jalapeno. Once softened, add tomatoes in their juice. Let come to an almost boil and then add corn and beans in their juices, cumin powder if using, chili powder, bay leaves, oregano and vinegar. Let cook for about 15 – 20 minutes, until the gravy is as thick as you like it.
If the pot is large enough, you can add the rinsed kale after about 5 minutes to let it cook right in the pot. If the pot is too small, rinse the kale and put it in a skillet with a little water and cook it down. Then add it to the chili.
I like to cook one cup of polenta at a time, as I usually eat the chili over a number of sittings. 1 cup will serve me alone 3-4 times. Depending on how many people you are serving, decide whether to make it all at once or it batches. When it is fresh it is softer and more like a corn pudding or porridge, when it has set it slices. The slices are delicious fried in a little butter, although you can also reheat the slices with a little water in a skillet or in the oven.
For each cup of polenta, boil 3 cups of water with ½ teaspoon of salt. Once boiling add polenta and 1 tablespoon butter or oil. Butter is really good here. Stir and cook for about a minute longer on medium high and then let sit for a few minutes.
Adjust the seasoning of the chili to taste. I also like to mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken the gravy. A quick wizz with a stick blender can work too.
Serve a portion of polenta topped with chili and garnish with a few tablespoons of minced or torn cilantro.
Enjoy as is or add grated cheese, sour cream, black olives, pickled jalapenos (a personal favorite), a squeeze of lime, guacamole…
4-5 servings as a meal with polenta