Last night I made my teary exit from Chef Race. But luckily, there were more important things going on in the world, and though I had to stay up til 2am to get the good news, America did not make me cry twice!
I couldn’t be prouder of our country, and I truly believe, as the president said, that the best for America is still to come. I spent so much time this summer running around states I’d never been to and meeting so many generous, kind people. I know it sounds cheesy giving this much credit to a reality TV show, but if there’s one thing I am most grateful for, it’s that filming Chef Race allowed me to feel much more in touch with the heartland of my country and the people who live there (even if they voted for Romney).
I made this root vegetable chili for the first viewing party of episode 1 and 2 of Chef Race. It was just me and the girls, a big pot, some cornbread, and a lot of wine. And though it was weird to see myself on the small screen for the first extended period of time, and to see how what we lived through had been edited together, it was such a fun way to spend an evening.
So the second thing I’m grateful to Chef Race for is breaking me out of my social funk! Tuesdays have been a source of dread, but also something I’ve very much looked forward to. It was an excuse to open up my small studio to my friends and spend some quality time with them at the beginning of each week. I’ll certainly still be watching, but I might have to find a replacement weekly tradition to force people to come hang out with me. Sometimes the promise of a roast chicken is not enough!
A big cheers our president. I’ll be following his lead – Onwards!
Root Vegetable and Black Bean Chili
- 2 ounces dried chile negro
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bunch cilantro
- Olive oil
- 2 large onions diced
- 4 large carrots peeled and diced
- Sea salt
- 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 3 28- ounce cans fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 sweet potato peeled and diced
- 4 small parsnips peeled and diced
- 4 cans black beans rinsed and drained
Place the chiles in a bowl and submerge in boiling hot water. Soak for at least 20 minutes, up to an hour. Remove the chiles from the water, reserving the liquids. Rinse off the seeds and skin and discard along with the stems. Place the cleaned chiles in a small food processor along with 1/2 cup of roughly chopped cilantro stems, the garlic, and 1/2 cup of soaking liquids. Puree until you get a fine paste, adding more liquid as necessary.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large lidded Dutch oven over a medium-high flame. Saute the onion and carrots until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. You want the spices to get nice and toasted. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
Add the sweet potatoes, parsnips, black beans, black chile paste, and remaining soaking liquid. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, adding one or two cups of water if necessary. You want a soupy consistency, as the chili will thicken as it simmers.
Simmer, partly covered for 20 minutes, until the potatoes and parsnips are tender. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Simmer 5 minutes more.
To serve, ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves, sour cream, and jack cheese.