I’ve never been a big fan of black eyed peas which is a bit strange given how much I love beans and legumes. I’ve made black eyed pea soups in the past and was always left a bit disappointed with them. I felt like I was just slurping broth and chomping on black eyed peas. Not all that exciting.
I finally realized this year if I was going to enjoy them, I needed to amp up the flavours in the dish!
That’s where this chili comes in.
This year, I made chili instead of soup because I suspected the peas would pair well with the chili’s texture and flavours. I gave this chili a smoky and spicy BBQ flavour and it really brought everything together really well. I’m happy to report there was no disappointment with this black eyed pea recipe.
Instead of serving it with traditional cornbread, I was craving something flat and crispy so I came up with this crispy cornbread, which reminds me a bit of Socca chickpea bread. Like traditional cornbread and Socca, this version is cooked in a cast iron skillet for the crispiest texture and unlike traditional cornbread, it doesn’t have a delicate texture which makes it great for dipping into chili and soup. The flavour is lightly sweet with a crisp-around-the-edges and chewy-in-the-centre texture. A definite winner for sure!
As I type this, I really want to go back to the kitchen for more…..can I just give you my chicken scratch and call it a year?
Penmanship was never one of my strong suits. I think one of my New Year’s resolutions will be to write my recipes down neatly, or at least, legible.
Ok, ok, I will type it out. For your sake and mine…
New Year’s Smoky BBQ Chili
I almost forget the black eyed peas were in there. If you’re like me, that’s never a bad thing. Here’s to a lucky 2012!
Yield: 5 cups
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
- 2.5 tbsp chili powder, or to taste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes)
- 1/2 cup dry/uncooked black eyed peas
- 3/4 cup dry/uncooked black beans
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, liquid drained
- 2 tbsp tomato paste, to thicken
- 1 tbsp chia seeds (or ground flax), to thicken
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 tbsp your fav BBQ sauce
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
- couple handfuls of chopped spinach, or other greens like collard, kale, etc
1. Soak the beans in water overnight or for at least 3-4 hours. This part is optional, but it helps reduce cook time and makes the beans more digestible. Rinse and drain beans before using. In a large pot, add the oil and sauté the onion and garlic over medium-low heat for about 5-6 minutes, until translucent.
2. Add in the pepper and optional jalapeno and sauté for another 3-5 minutes.
3. Stir in the spices (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne) and sauté on low another couple minutes. If you want, you can add just a bit for now and then add the rest to taste after it has cooked.
4. Add the dry black beans and black eyed peas, broth, and drained diced tomatoes. Stir well. Now stir in the tomato paste. Simmer on low with the lid ajar for about 2.5 hours, checking often to make sure it doesn’t dry out. If it does, add a bit more broth to thin out.
5. About 15 minutes before it’s done cooking, stir in the chia seeds, corn, and chopped greens. The chia helps thicken the chili. Also stir in the BBQ sauce, starting with 1 tbsp at a time and tasting as you go. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be made 2-3 days in advance and frozen if preferred.
Note: You can probably use canned beans, but you won’t need as much broth. I would add it slowly.
I was very excited to use my Kirkland pot (from Costco) that my mother in law Margaret gave me for X-mas! I’m loving it so far.
Every good chili recipe needs a secret ingredient. This BBQ sauce is the “special twist” in this recipe.
A couple tablespoons just brings all the spices together so nicely.
As with other chili recipes, making it in advance works to your advantage. I like making it the day before so the flavours can mingle overnight.
I also used chia seeds to thicken it, but you can use ground flax instead. I’ve heard that some people use cornmeal to thicken chili. I will have to try that next time!
This flat cornbread (shown above and below) was my very first trial. I made it in a square baking pan instead of a cast iron skillet. It crisped on the edges, but it had a very soft and bendy texture.
I noticed a huge difference when I used my cast iron skillet! It got a lot more chewy and crispy in the skillet. I picked up this skillet from Loblaws. I think it’s President’s Choice brand and only set me back about $9-10 bucks.
Note to self: Clean dried chili off the oven.
Flat & Crispy Cornbread
Flat, chewy, crispy, “buttery” and lightly sweet tasting, this cornbread is the perfect vehicle for chili or other winter soup. You can also eat it on its own or with your favourite spread for breakfast or a snack.
Yield: 4-6 pieces
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cornmeal
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour (or flour of choice)
- generous 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp organic cane sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or oil of choice or earth balance)
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil (for coating skillet)
1. Preheat oven to medium broil (#3 on my oven). Place an 8-10 inch cast-iron skillet in the oven to pre-heat. In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar). Now whisk in the water and melted 1/2 tbsp coconut oil.
2. Microwave batter on high for 60 seconds. Batter will have thickened up a bit and cooked around the edges. Whisk vigorously until all clumps are gone. Place back in microwave and heat on high for another 20 seconds. Remove and whisk well until no clumps remain.
3. Carefully remove the cast iron skillet from the oven. Add 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil. Move it back and forth to coat bottom and edges.
4. Pour batter into the skillet and quickly spread it around with the back of a large spoon. It’s ok if it doesn’t touch the edges perfectly. This will depend on the size of your skillet.
5. Place skillet in the oven and broil over medium heat for 10 minutes, watching it very closely as oven temperatures will vary! I kept an eye on it the entire time. When edges start to blacken (for me, after 10 minutes) remove carefully and gently flip it over using a flat metal spatula. Bake for an additional 2 minutes on the other side watching very closely.
6. Remove and let it sit in the skillet for 3-5 minutes. Place on cutting board and slice into 4-6 pieces. You can slice off any blackened edges if necessary, but a little bit adds to the fun.
I wasn’t expecting much from this cornbread, but I could not stop eating it.
I had a few slices for breakfast this morning and I had to peel myself away from it to keep from eating the entire thing! It’s just perfect on it’s own and even better dipped into chili. I can see myself having a lot of fun adapting this recipe.
Well, that’s a wrap for 2011 I guess. :)
Thank you for making 2011 an exciting, fun, and memorable year for me. I am so thankful for everyone of you who have impacted my life in so many positive ways.
I wish you a 2012 filled with glowing health, love, happiness, and the courage to follow your dreams.
I’ll catch you on the flip side!