Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cinnamon Vanilla Chili

I spent some time in the spice aisle this weekend restocking our growing stash of herbs and spices.  My intent was to grab some cinnamon for a peach cobbler...but I haven't quite gotten around to making it.  Instead, why not make chili?  Maybe not the optimal cool-off summertime meal or the most common use for cinnamon, but oh-so-tasty, nevertheless.


(Slow cooked, low heat)
Cinnamon Vanilla Chili


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans black beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 ear fresh corn (or 1 cup frozen corn)
1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves smashed garlic
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups water
Chili powder, cayenne, peri-peri, and cinnamon
Sour cream and fresh chives, to garnish

Here's what I did:

On medium-low, add the olive oil to a medium size stock pot and let it warm for a few minutes.  Toss in the onions and garlic and let simmer until yellowy-clear for about 4-5 minutes. 

Next, add the tomatoes, black beans, corn (raw and just cut from the cob is best) and a good swig of the water.  Give it a good stir.

Next, have some fun with the spices.  You really can't have too much chili powder, but start with a few teaspoons, then add a few healthy dashes of cayenne for a little heat, then a few good dashes of cinnamon for a nice sugary, spicy layer.  If you have it, add some peri-peri rub.  Peri-peri is a widely used spice in Mozambique and has notes of citrus, salt and most notably, chili pepper.  It adds a nice flavor layer to your chili by balancing out the heat of the chili flakes with more character and roundness of flavor.  It's well worth the purchase next time your hanging around the spice aisle.  Lastly, add half the vanilla.

Continue giving everything a good stir, add a bit more water, and toss on the lid.  Mind you, the heat is on medium-low but should be bringing your pot to a good simmer.  If it's not, turn it up for a moment so the liquid barely starts to boil, then turn it down to med-low again.  Let the pot sit for a an hour, come back, add some more water, stir and taste.  Need more spices (probably)?  I would add about the same amount as I started with.  Be careful with the cayenne and peri-peri, but don't be afraid of the chili powder and the cinnamon. 

Continue to stir and taste, tip the lid so some moisture can escape, and watch as the chili thickens. The flavors begin to develop as the tomatoes boil down and their acidity ties in the spicy character of the hot peppers in the chili powder and peri-peri.  Add the rest of the vanilla just before you serve the chili (as some of the vanilla will have lost its flavor after simmering for so long), and serve with sour cream and fresh chives. 

The cinnamon and vanilla add a unique sugary, spicy character to the bowl and combined with the peri-peri and cayenne, you won't have to worry about it being too sweet.  This chili has a complex, layered flavor, but is so easy to make! You can let it sit and simmer for hours and hours, or just add less water to make a quick meal.  The addition of the corn is great summertime addition.  Enjoy!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving me a note!