Chipotle Black Bean Chili

Have you every wondered why black beans have become so popular in the United States in recent years? They’ve long been a staple in our south-of-the-border neighbor, Mexico, where they’re called frijoles negros.

Now, Americans have discovered that black beans not only are uniquely delicious but nutritious as well.

Few foods have as solid a nutritional profile as black beans. They are loaded with protein and fiber. As as far as antioxidants, black beans have at least eight different flavonoids, the color-producing phytonutrients pigments that work together with vitamins to help the body avoid oxygen-related damage.

Black beans also contain small amounts of omega 3-fatty acids, about three times that available from many other beans, including kidney beans.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed black beans in a variety of dishes from soups to stews to chilis, which brings me to following recipe, which was passed on to me by Mark Haley of Grand Forks.

Mark, who along with his wife, Bonnie, owns Bon Voyage Travel Agency, does the majority of cooking in their household. Recently, I shared with him my penchant for spicy foods, and not too long after that, he shared this black bean chili recipe with me.

I’ve yet to try the chili, mainly because Therese isn’t a big fan of spicy food and it contains a variety of hot pepper, chipotle. It’s one of those recipes that I’ll make when she’s out of town.

But that’s not to say I have to wait to try it.

Chipotle Black Bean Chili
1 pound Jimmy Dean Premium Pork Hot Sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
28 ounces chicken broth
1 14 1/2-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 16-ounce jar picante sauce
2 cups frozen diced hash browns
1 15 1/4-ounce can whole-kernel corn
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown sausage and ground beef. Drain fat.
Add remaining and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Black Beans and Rice Chili

Everyone loves a bowl of hot chili on a cold day. And add a little bit of rice to the mix and you have a meal that hardly needs any accompaniment.

Here’s a recipe from Zatarain’s for Black Beans and Rice Chili, a one-skillet meal complete with corn and red bell pepper for color and texture that could become a Super Bowl party standby for years to come.

Black Beans and Rice Chili
2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 pound ground beef
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced red bell pepper
1 package Zatarain’s Black Beans and Rice
2 cups water
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Assorted toppings, such as shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onion and bell pepper; cook and stir until meat is no longer pink. Drain fat.
Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, rice mix, water, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, garlic powder and crushed red pepper.
Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minute or until most of the water is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent rice and beans from sticking. Serve with assorted toppings, if desired.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per: 321 calories, 734 milligrams 2odium, 13 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrates, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams fiber 19 grams protein.

South-of-the-Border Black Bean Soup

Nothing beats the cold than a hot bowl of soup or chili. And if it has a little added kick, that’s even better.

With temperatures closer to seasonal averages than they have been all winter, I thought a pot of chili might be in order. I was thinking about one along the vegetarian line, since we’ve had our share of red meat the past couple of days.

But when Rick Branvold of rural Gilby, N.D., called me today inquiring about a black bean soup recipe that had been in the Herald a few years back, I changed my mind after looking over the recipe.

Branvold, a civilian employee at Grand Forks Air Force Base, said the soup has been a family favorite ever since it was published. He said his wife had called him at work about the recipe, and he was having trouble remembering the exact ingredients, so he decided to give me a call.

Here’s the recipe, which I can’t wait to try again.

South-of-the-Border Black Bean Soup
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can no-salt added whole tomatoes, chopped
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 14.5-ounce can fat-free lower-sodium chicken broth
2 4-ounce cans whole green chilies, drained and coarsely chopped
1½ cups frozen corn
4 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
Light or no-fat sour cream, for garnish
Colby-jack reduced fat shredded cheese, for garnish
Baked tortilla chips, for garnish
Place all soup ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low setting 7 to 9 hours.
Ladle into bowls. Dollop with 1 tablespoon sour cream. Sprinkle one tablespoon shredded cheese over all and crush 4 chips on top.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 157 calories, 10 percent of calories from fat, 2 grams fat (trace saturated), no cholesterol, 29 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 579 milligrams sodium, 9 grams dietary fiber.

Black Bean Quesadillas

I love this age of computers and the Internet. Not only has it made my job easier the past 10 to 20 years, it’s also connected me with a lot of people who in the old days would have fallen off the radar.

One such person is Mary Gilmour Sorlie of Bemidji. I’ve known Mary since she was a kid. Her dad, the late Bob Gilmour, hired me at the Herald in 1974. I’ll always remember how he called those of us who wrote about athletics “sports porters.”

Mary is a friend of mine on Facebook, something that I’ve really taken a liking to the past year. Facebook is a nice way to keep in touch with people we’ve known over the years, even when we don’t get a chance to see them often.

Today, Mary had an interesting food posting. She recommended to friends a recipe for Black Bean Quesadillas from eatingwell.com. Mary said are “great.” The quesadillas take just 15 minutes to make and would be especially nice for busy people.

Here is the recipe, just in case you want to try them. Therese and I surely will.

Black Bean Quesadillas
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, preferably pepper Jack
½ cup prepared fresh salsa (see note), divided
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 ripe avocado, diced
Combine beans, cheese and ¼ cup salsa in a medium bowl. Place tortillas on a work surface. Spread ½ cup filling on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently to flatten.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 quesadillas and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and quesadillas. Serve the quesadillas with avocado and the remaining salsa.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: Look for prepared fresh salsa in the supermarket refrigerator section near other dips and spreads.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 377 calories, 16 grams fat (5 grams saturated, 8 grams monounsaturated), 13 milligrams cholesterol, 46 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 10 grams fiber, 679 milligrams sodium, 581 milligrams potassium.

Bean Stalking

Ever since a life-altering health incident (stroke) in November 1993, I’ve paid particular attention to what food goes into my body.

And March is always a time when I like to reflect, since it’s National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education and information campaign created annually by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

One of the biggest reasons I key on nutrition during March is that dietitians played a huge rule in my recovery. (Incidentally, today, March 10, just happens to be Registered Dietitian Day.) If it weren’t for the valuable advice dietitians gave me when I was in the hospital, my life probably wouldn’t be as good as it is today.

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is "Nutrition From the Ground Up." One way I try to follow this is by including beans in my diet. Yes, beans, beans, the magical fruit! The more you eat, the more you …

The 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 3 cups of dried beans per week to reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 16 percent. Most Americans eat only about a third of this amount. Recent research shows eating ½ cup of pinto beans daily can reduce serum cholesterol by 8 percent.

Full of complex carbohydrates yet fat-free, beans also can play a role in weight management by making you feel full without a lot of calories. Beans are a great source of insoluble and soluble fiber, with more than 6 grams in a ½-cup serving. They promote a healthy digestive tract, may reduce your risk of some types of cancer and can help control diabetes and maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

Rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, folate and iron, popular dried beans include black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, pink beans and pinto beans.

All of this is the reason I’m a bean stalker and always am on the lookout for more recipes that include legumes. The following bean recipes came to my attention the other day. I hope to give them all a try. Maybe you should, too.

(Read about some food myths that the ADA dispels at www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Features/tag/food/.

Madras Chickpeas with Spinach
1½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water to cover
1 cup vegetable broth
1 13½- to 14½-ounce can coconut milk
2 tablespoons mild curry powder or to taste
2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach
1 large or 2 medium onions (about 1 pound total), cut into wedges
1 14½- to 15½-ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles
Ground red (cayenne) pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
Salt
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Drain chickpeas. In a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker, stir together broth, coconut milk and curry powder. Set over high heat. Add chickpeas, spinach and onions. Pour tomatoes on top; do not stir.
Lock the lid in place. Bring to high pressure, then reduce the heat enough to maintain the pressure and cook for 16 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
When pressure is released, remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any steam to escape. If the chickpeas are not quite tender, replace the lid without locking and simmer until chickpeas are done.
Stir well. Add a pinch of cayenne or pepper flakes or to taste, more curry powder if necessary, and salt to taste. The mixture will thicken as it stands, but if you wish to thicken it immediately, mash some of the chickpeas against the side of the cooker with a fork and stir them in.
Stir in cilantro. Serve in large, shallow bowls or lipped plates.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 380 calories, 17 grams fat (13 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 16 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams sugar, 14 grams fiber, 420 milligrams sodium, 250 milligrams calcium.

Korean-Style Black Beans
2 cups dried black beans
6 cups water
½ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Wash beans thoroughly. Place beans and water in the slow cooker.
In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Pour over beans, stirring in thoroughly.
Cover and cook on low for 6 to 10 hours (see note) or until the beans are tender. Serve with cooked rice and cooked greens for a full meal.
Note: After 6 hours in a slow cooker, beans still may have significant crunch. After 8 hours, they will soften but still have some crunch. They will be fully softened after cooking for 10 hours. You can shorten the cooking time by soaking the beans in cold water for 1 to 2 hours before placing them in the slow cooker.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 260 calories, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 14 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 14 grams fiber, 1,370 milligrams sodium, 40 milligrams calcium.

Pasta and Lentils
2 cups dried lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 rib celery, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 canned plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
1 cup small tubular pasta, uncooked
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling (optional)
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)
Place lentils in a large colander. Rinse well under cold water and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a pressure cooker over medium heat. Add onion and saute 4 to 5 minutes or until soft, stirring frequently so that the onion does not brown. Add carrots, celery and tomatoes. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add lentils, garlic, bay leaf and water. Stir to blend.
Position the lid and lock in place. Raise the heat to high and bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to stabilize the pressure and cook 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Lower the pressure by placing the cooker in the sink and running cold water over the lid. Open the pressure cooker and test the lentils to see if they are tender. If not, lock the lid back in place, return to high pressure and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
While the lentil mixture is cooking, cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions.
When the lentils are tender, mash the softened garlic cloves by pressing them against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust for salt (up to 3 teaspoons) and pepper (about ¼ teaspoon). Stir in the cooked pasta.
Spoon into four plates or bowls. If desired, drizzle each plate with a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil and serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (using 3 teaspoons salt): 520 calories, 9 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 30 grams protein, 84 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams sugar, 25 grams fiber, 1,840 milligrams sodium, 100 milligrams calcium.

Black Bean Soup

Every month, Brad Dokken, our outdoor editor, forwards an e-mail he receives from the folks at www.winkelman.com, which includes several tasty recipes from Kris Winkelman, wife of the well-known angler, Babe.

Of course, almost all of the recipes feature something wild, and that’s right up my alley.

The latest featured a recipe for Venison Black Bean Soup, which looks might tasty. It calls for three or four deer steaks, some of my favorite veggies and, naturally, black beans. I can’t wait to try the recipe.

While I haven’t been successful deer hunting yet this season because of the enormous amount of corn that’s still standing in the area where we hunt, elk meat from a recent trip to Colorado should do.

And for those of you who also would like to try making it, here’s the recipe, along with another for black bean soup that features south-of-the-border seasonings.

Venison Black Bean Soup
3 to 4 large venison steaks (grilled and seasoned with Babe Winkelman¹s Northwood¹s Grill Seasoning and garlic powder)
64 ounces of canned beef broth
3 to 4 stalks celery (chopped)
1 cup carrots (chopped)
1 cup onions (chopped)
3 15-ounce cans Southwestern black beans
2 clove garlic (chopped with chili spices)
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon beef base
2 tablespoons butter
Saute carrots, onions, celery, and Garlic with butter. Cut steaks into bite size pieces. Add beef broth, beef base, garlic salt, beans and steak. Simmer over medium heat 1½ hours.
Garnish with parsley and sour cream.

Southwestern Black Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
½ cup brown rice
2 14½-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup salsa
2 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon leaf oregano
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and carrots and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in red pepper, and saute 1 minute. Stir in zucchini, rice, broth, tomato sauce, salsa, water and seasonings. Cover, heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Stir in beans and corn. Simmer 15 minutes, or until vegetables and rice are tender. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle each serving with minced cilantro.
Yield: Serves 10.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 158 calories, 13 percent of calories from fat, 2 grams fat, trace saturated fat, no cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 230 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.

Stalking the Corn

This is a busy time of the year for gardeners. Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time in my garden — and in the kitchen canning.

Besides putting up a half-dozen quarts of tomato juice and pints of salsa, Therese and I canned another nine quarts of dill pickles and eight pints of bread and butters. And I’m in the midst of my 14-day pickles, which requires me to do something every day.

But I’m finished with one job that is a chore because it’s so labor-intensive — but it’s well worth it. That’s the one involving corn. (It sure is nice to pull a bag out of the freezer during the dead of winter and be able to have that just-from-the-garden taste.)

But to get there, it requires picking the corn (I was spared this because use we bought some from friends Dave and Peggy Brodeur, who harvested it), cutting it off the cob, blanching it, putting it in cold water, draining it after it’s cooled and then bagging it.

We kept a few ears to eat and plan on using some for a corn, black bean and avocado salsa that is served with grilled chicken (the recipe follows).

A meal like that makes it all worthwhile.

Grilled Chicken with Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa
4 small boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves (5 to 6 ounces each; you can substitute pheasant breasts)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 ears sweet corn, husked (or 1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels)
2 teaspoons minced jalapeno or serrano chili
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
½ cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
½ cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
About 20 grape tomatoes, halved
1 ripe Florida avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces baby arugula
Lay chicken flat on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound each piece with the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a small pan until an even thickness. Combine chicken with 2 tablespoons each oil and lime juice. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.
Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high. Grill chicken, flipping once, about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Set aside.
Stand an ear of corn on one end in a large bowl and use a serrated knife to cut off kernels; repeat with other ear. Add chili, ginger, beans, onion, cilantro, 4 tablespoons lime juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss to combine. Stir in tomatoes and avocado, and season with salt and pepper.
Toss arugula with remaining 2 teaspoons each oil and lime juice, and divide among 4 plates. Top with chicken and avocado-corn salsa.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 462 calories (42 percent from fat), 22.6 grams fat (3.7 grams saturated, 13.9 grams monounsaturated), 68.4 milligrams cholesterol, 34.7 grams protein, 35.6 grams carbohydrates, 10.2 grams fiber, 504.8 milligrams sodium.