Friday, March 27, 2015

Sweet Potato Chili (minus the Kale)

Another of Chef AJ's recipes. You can see her demonstrate this with Dr. Esselstyn on one of her Foody TV videos:

The recipe appeared on the Forks Over Knives web site back in January 2013, but I never bothered to make it because of my husband's dislike of most things with sweet potatoes in them. But lately he's been more open, and since he likes all the Chef AJ chilis I've tried so far I assumed he would like this one, too.

I was right.

It's me who isn't that crazy about it. I think. He loved it at first taste. It's one of those meals that hits you a number of ways, excites all different types of tastebuds, so I'm really unsure if I like it or not. We're having the leftovers today, so I guess I'll know for sure after dinner.

Sweet Potato Chili with Kale
Serves 6 

2 medium sweet potatoes, diced (approximately 2 pounds)
1 large red onion (approximately 10 ounces), finely chopped
2 15 ounce cans salt-free kidney beans
2 red bell peppers, seeded and finely diced
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, diced (or 2 14.5 ounce cans of salt-free tomatoes)
1 tablespoon salt-free chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (makes a difference when it’s smoked)
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste)
2 cups of Lacinato Kale, finely shredded like cabbage for coleslaw (or 8 ounces of Lacinato Kale)
3 cups of orange juice

In large pot, sauté onion and bell pepper in half of the orange juice for 8-10 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the kale.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft, but not mushy.

Turn off heat and stir in kale so it wilts, then serve.

To make in an electric pressure cooker, place all ingredients in the cooker and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes and release pressure.

How I did it:

Sweet potatoes. I cried the first day I went to make this. As I mentioned previously, our cars have only been free of the snow and ice for about 2 weeks now, and last weekend was only the second chance I had to hit a bunch of stores. Not only did I go to a different chain grocery store than my regular one for fresh produce, I hit the local Asian grocery store. Some of the things purchased in the chain were some delicious looking sweet potatoes. The day we bought them I had one for lunch and another that night for a snack. I needed at least 2 for this recipe so put them on the shelf where I always store sweet potatoes. The Asian store had not only purple sweet potatoes but the yellow ones, too, and I grabbed a few of those. I had 2 of these for the next morning's breakfast and put the rest with the other sweet potatoes.

Fast forward 2 days. I'm gathering ingredients for this chili. I reach for the sweet potatoes. Every single potato was either moldy on the surface, so moldy it was soft and leaky, or eyes 4 inches long had already sprouted. In just 2 days!! WHY??

It's been a bad winter, and I was so happy to have good looking, tasty fresh produce again, and then this happened. Yes, I wept a few minutes in frustration. I tossed them all in the garbage, got dressed, and grabbed the car keys. I didn't even tell my husband where I was going, I just left. I hit a different store and bought myself 3 sweet potatoes and drove back home, satisfied. There was no way these suckers were going to go bad between the time I put them in a bag and the time I chop them up in 5 minutes to toss into a pot! AHA! Gotcha!

Red onion - Our main grocery store is constantly undergoing changes, especially in the produce department. My first day back I had a long talk with the produce manager about this and he shared my frustrations. They used to have a lot of prepared, already-chopped or sliced vegetables. I used to go through 2 containers of sliced sweet onions every week until they dropped them. They dropped all of them except carrot and celery strips, shredded carrots, and finely diced red onions. For this I am truly grateful. Whenever they're out and I have to chop my own red onions, I cringe. If I don't wear the disposable gloves, my hands are dyed purple for a few days. I have a hard time getting the smell of those onions off them, too. But these containers of pre-chopped red onions, already measured out to the 10 ounces needed for this recipe? Priceless! Watch, they'll be done away with, discontinued, next time I need them.

Red bell peppers - I already had an open jar of fire-roasted red peppers in the refrigerator from some hummus I made the day before and used that.

Tomatoes - I used the cans of petite diced, no salt added.

OJ - I used a wee bit more than the 3 cups. My husband drank the rest of the quart I bought to keep me away from the temptation of drinking it myself.

Kale - No decent fresh kale in 2 different stores, both having very limp curly kale that looked like a bad perm gone through a thunderstorm. Bad analogy, but tough. I had bought a bag of frozen kale, but after my husband nearly chipped another tooth on a big piece of wood mixed in with the kale the night before, he insisted I toss the whole bag and never buy frozen kale from that store again. This wasn't the first time their kale had hunks of really hard stuff in it. So I used frozen spinach. I've never had a problem with that and we both prefer its taste over kale, too.

Even with all that liquid you can see those tiny specks of chili powder.
Dish it out over rice, take a forkful, and . . .

I'm not sure. With each mouthful you get both the sweetness from the sweet potatoes and orange juice, but there's SO much chili powder in there, too, that you also get a mouthful of spicy. It confused my tastebuds.

As I said, my husband loved it and has requested it be added to the new rotation, the one that consists of mostly Chef AJ recipes, specifically her chili dishes. If after the second time eating it I'm still not a fan, that's okay, because it's still tasty enough to put up with a few times a month.

As long as I can get good sweet potatoes, that is. I really wish we had access to frozen ones like Jeff Novick can for his Fast Food 4 DVD. That would solve a lot of my problems.

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