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Sweet potato chili

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Kitchen Report

(Read caption) Sweet potato chili seasoned with jalapeno and cayenne pepper.

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Winter cooking is all about root vegetables, cutting back a bit on meat, and making big pots of soups and stews to serve up by the bowlfuls to friends or freeze for another day when I don’t feel like cooking from scratch.

When this sweet potato chili came across the transom from Family Circle, I was intrigued. It’s a slow cooker recipe, too. I don’t have a fancy slow cooker. I have a 1970s orange-yellow slow cooker with a missing knob. It’s nothing like the squat, chrome-trimmed counterparts of today’s slow cookers, but I like the Danish modern style of my simple cooker, despite its major flaw.

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“That’s OK,” my mom told me when it ended up in my kitchen, after we had cleaned out my dad’s house when he passed. “Just use a screwdriver to adjust the heat. Slow cookers only have three settings: low, medium, and high.” But I haven’t had much inspiration to test her theory, especially since I can’t really tell which setting it’s on.

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But for a slow-cooker sweet potato chili recipe, I figured not too much could go wrong – it’s not like you can ruin sweet potatoes and pinto beans. So I thought I’d just let the slow cooker do its thing and then determine if we could have a working partnership.

As for the recipe, I couldn’t find the “jalapeno-seasoned petite diced tomatoes” that the original recipe calls for, so I just diced up a half a jalapeno and tossed it in with everything else for what seemed like an eternity (basically all day). If you like your chili hot, add more.

I have now been eating sweet potato chili for a week straight, even after feeding two other friends one Sunday, packing it for lunch at work, and freezing more. There is still a big helping in my ‘fridge. I like the sweet potato base of the this chili, with its lingering heat from the jalapeno and cayenne pepper that tingles the lips – just the thing one needs when something as intimidating as the Polar Vortex is swirling outside in the dark night.

The orange-yellow slow cooker may have just proved its bright spot in my kitchen.

Sweet Potato Chili

Adapted from Family Circle

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Serves 6 to 8

3 large sweet potatoes, about 2 lbs., peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes

1/2-1 whole jalapeno, cored, seeded, and diced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups of water

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Coat slow-cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Layer sweet potatoes, onion, green pepper, garlic, and pinto beans in slow cooker. Combine the rest of the ingredients, except for the cilantro, in a medium-size bowl. Pour over vegetables.

3. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours, or low for 8 hours.

4. Stir in cilantro and serve chili over brown rice.


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