This is officially going to be a soup and stew-filled winter. Add to that a sub-category of chili.
I hadn’t made chili in ages, but the mood struck last week – perhaps inspired by the onset of some chilly weather – so I decided to try out an idea I’ve been mulling over for a while: a one-pot chili and cornbread dish.
Now, I will preface by saying that I fully understand that chili, like stews, is best when it can cook (er, stew?) for a long time. I opted for the quick(er)-fix version last week though in the essence of time. It hit the spot, but I am sure a longer cooking time would allow for a fuller depth of flavor to develop. Just something to keep in mind and/or manage expectations when it comes to a quicker-style chili like this!
That being said, it’s nice to you know you can throw together a tasty – and SUPER healthy – chili relatively fast in one evening, and if you make it in a pan that is good both on the stove-top and in the oven (e.g., cast iron), it goes from one to the other seamlessly. The cornbread topping is like a savory literal and figurative “icing on the cake”!
Consider this recipe more of an approximation. Play around with the spices to your liking, and if you have other vegetables lying around, add them as well/instead – and just adjust the liquid content and seasoning as needed. Here’s what I did:
Recipe: Quick One-Pot Chili & Cornbread
What You Need (translation: what I used) for the Chili
- 1 sweet onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 cup (approx) baby portobello mushrooms
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (preferably unsalted)
- 1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce (preferably unsalted)
- water and/or low-sodium vegetable stock, as needed
- cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper – all to taste
- 2 cans of beans (I used the Simple Truth organic tri-bean blend sold at Fry’s – their organic offerings have been getting much better lately!)
What You Need for the Cornbread
- 1 c cornmeal
- 1 tsp baking powder (note: if you don’t live at a high elevation, you might want to up this to 1.5 tsp)
- big pinch of salt
- big pinch or turbinado sugar
- 3/4 c unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/8 c unsweetened applesauce
- 1/8 c canola oil
What You Do
- Finely dice all veggies and very finely chop the garlic.
- Heat a large oven-proof pan (e.g., cast iron) on the stove over medium heat and add a glug or two of olive oil (told you this recipe includes very precise measurements…)
- Add all of the vegetables (not the canned tomatoes) to the pan and sautee for at least 15 minutes
- Once the veggies begin to soften (the potatoes will take the longest), add the cans of tomato and seasoning. Try starting with 2-3 tsp cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder, a big pinch of salt, a lot of pepper, and a shake or two of cayenne depending on how heat-tolerant you are!
- Stir and add water/stock if you want to thin the consistency at all
- Bring it to a gentle simmer, and cover – cook for about 20 more minutes (or until potatoes are softening), stirring and tasting periodically and adjusting the seasoning if needed
- Preheat the oven to 400
- In a small bowl, whisk the cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar together – then stir in the coconut milk, applesauce and oil until all are thoroughly combined
- Turn the heat off under the chili, and use a spatula to spread/dollop the cornbread mixture relatively evenly over the top of the chili – the chili doesn’t need to be entirely covered, but try and keep the thickness of the batter as consistent as possible
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden brown around the edges and starting to crack; it’ll be firm to the touch
- Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving… then enjoy!