Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tuesday Do-Little Dinners: Slow-Cooker Pinto Bean-Sweet Potato Chili

OK, so maybe you don't have a full hour before dinner needs to be on the table. No problem! With today's dinner idea, you can walk in the door to a fully-cooked meal. Add some crusty bread and/or a mixed-green salad sprinkled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a handful of walnuts and/or dried cranberries, and you're good to go. Or, for those of you with toddlers climbing up your legs, feel free to just slice up an apple or something to go with the main dish. That will do just fine as well.

It's true that today's meal--adapted from an old Bon Appetit recipe--requires a little advance preparation, but I promise you it won't take long, and it's worth it; this chili is so scrumptious. If you have time to do the veggie prep in the a.m., great--it's really not very time-consuming; then just dump it all in the crockpot and come back 8-10 hours later. If mornings are way too crazy, you can certainly chop and saute the onion, as well as grate the little bit of required orange zest, the night before and store in the fridge; however, if you try to peel and chop the sweet potatoes in advance, you will notice they will discolor. One partial solution is to substitute small red potatoes for the sweet, and don't bother to peel them. Sure, you still need to cut them up before they go in the crockpot (unless they're really small), but it shouldn't take long at all to halve or quarter a handful of new reds in the morning. And note: the amounts of the ingredients are not set in stone; the slow-cooker is pretty flexible. Oh, and don't be tempted to skip the orange zest--it makes the whole dish. Yum!

Slow-Cooker Pinto Bean-Sweet Potato Chili
Serves 4

1 T. olive oil
1 medium to large onion, chopped finely
2 tsp. chili powder
3 cups vegetable broth (*I use Knorr brand vegetable bouillon cubes added to the appropriate amount of boiling water; mix it up good before adding to pot)
A couple of medium sweet potatoes (peeled), or 5-6 small red potatoes and cut into cubes--size not too important
1 15-oz. can Mexican-style stewed or diced tomatoes, with ALL the juice
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained/rinsed (black or kidney beans fine too)
1-1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

Saute the chopped onion in the oil for five minutes or so. Add chili powder and stir one more minute. Put cooked onion into slow-cooker with all other ingredients. Stir well, cover, and turn slow-cooker to low. Chili will be done in 8 hours or so, but can go longer if you can't get to it in time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like, garnish bowls with chopped fresh cilantro.


Jordan said...

Hey, I'm making this today! Looking forward to it - yummy!

Paula said...

Hey - came across this recipe and it sounds yummy. Would you know how to adapt it for using dried pinto beans?

Shan said...

Hi Paula!

I have no idea how to use dried beans in the slow cooker. But seriously--this recipe is so good, you might become a canned-bean convert if you try it as-is!

Mat said...

Canned beans would be easier, but if you want to use dried beans: Get a 1 pound bag of dried pintos, but you'll only use about half of them- 1 to 1.5 cups depending on how much beans you want. Rinse well in a collander and sort in case there's rocks in the beans. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover well with water. Let them soak overnight. Use as decribed in the recipe, just bump the cooking time up an hour or so hour to make sure the beans are done. The results should be the about the same.