Monday, September 24, 2012

Smoky Sausage and Bean Chili

The third installment of my chili series is a chili that combines flavors from multiple cuisines. This chili also represents the area of Texas along the Gulf Coast between Houston and the Louisiana border. It is a slow cooked chili that simmers all day, then is finished in the amount of time it takes to cook a couple cups of rice.

The area along the coast of Texas is a huge melting pot of cultures. Many people moved to this area of Texas when oil was found. As a result, numerous influences can be seen in this part of the country, especially in the cuisine. While there is definitely a strong Mexican heritage in this area, there are also influences from Cajun, French, southern, and Eastern European cuisines.

This chili draws from the Mexican, Cajun, and Eastern European cuisines (specifically Polish, Houston has the 13th largest Polish population in the United States). The base flavoring of the chili is onions, cumin, oregano, and chilies, but the traditional beef is replaced by two kinds of sausages, Polska kielbasa and andouille sausage. These ingredients are combined with beans and slow simmered until everything is tender and the flavors come together. The chili is fairly spicy due to the use of the chili powder, chipotle peppers, and andouille, especially if you use hot andouille like I did, but the heat is cut by topping the chili with rice, a la gumbo style.

The end result is a spicy, hearty meal perfect for week 3 of the NFL season.

Smoky Sausage and Bean Chili

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large white onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
14 oz polska kielbasa, sliced
14 oz andouille sausage, sliced
1 lb navy beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
3 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Cooked rice
Green onion, for garnish

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and red pepper until softened, about six minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds more.  Add chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook one minute, or until fragrant. Transfer to slow cooker.

In same skillet, saute kielbasa and andouille until lightly browned and heated through. Transfer to slow cooker.

Add beans, chicken broth, soy sauce, liquid smoke seasoning, and chipotle to slow cooker. Stir to mix well.

Cover and cook on high for two hours. Reduce heat to low and cook for six hours longer (or leave on high and cook a total of five hours), stirring every two hours. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in tomato paste to thicken. Serve with rice.

Next Week:  Cincinnati Chili

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