Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a chill that needs warming

It is the first true five-layer temperature day, and it is not even winter officially. This does not bode well for the coming months unless nature’s plan is to just get this frigid weather out of the way so we can get back to gardening, or for some of us dream of it. I don’t think so. Along with my down ski jacket, four-feet wool scarf and cashmere beanie I have taken out my large pot reserved for just this kind of day. It is my 12-quart soup/stew pot that has not seen the stovetop since last March in all probability -- it needs to be washed.

A quick rinse out of a season or two is no hassle especially since I can appreciate the job is getting readied for. All things chopped, simmered for hours; filling my home with scents and radiating warmth, to finally also fill my belly. I would venture to say the only good thing about artic temperatures is the pot it generates simmering in my kitchen.

Red Kidney Beans with Fire Roasted Chili Peppers - yields 6 to 8 servings

1 jalapeno chili - roasted, peeled and seeded
2 Anaheim chilies - roasted, peeled and seeded
2 pablano chili - roasted, peeled and seeded
1 serrano chili – roasted, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound bacon – cut into thick strips
1 large onion - thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cup red wine
32 ounces canned, chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped pumpkin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon thyme leaves - chopped
3” by 1” strip of orange zest
3 cups cooked red kidney beans
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop all the chilies and hold to the side.

Heat a 6 quart casserole dish and add the oil, bacon and onion. As the bacon releases its fat let the onions sauté until golden brown. Then add in the garlic and cumin seeds and continue cooking the mixture for two minutes. Pour in the red wine and reduce the liquid by more than half. Mix in the tomatoes, pumpkin, oregano, thyme, orange zest, kidney beans and reserved chopped roasted chilies. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cook the stew, covered, for 1 hour. Correct seasoning and serve hot. If the mixture gets too dry add some water to prevent scorching.