Chili with raisins
The smoky heat of chipotle chilies is balanced by the sweetness of the raisins. When you're feeling bold, add two chilies for more heat. Serve this with cornbread, a green salad, and perhaps a glass of bright and fruity Nouveau Beaujolais. The do-ahead feast is perfect for entertaining during the upcoming football weekend!
1 small chipotle chili pepper, wear plastic gloves when handling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup Syrah or other full-bodied, peppery red wine
½ cup dark raisins
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Shredded Cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish
In a small bowl, cover the chili with very hot (not boiling) water to cover. Soak for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chili is soft. Remove and discard the stem and seeds; mince the chili.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell pepper is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and ground cumin; stir constantly for about 1 minute.
Stir in the tomatoes (with juice), beans, wine, raisins, dried basil (if using) fresh or dried oregano, and the chili. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the raisins are plumped, about 15 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil (if using), the salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Garnish the servings with cheese and sour cream.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.