I (lightly) catered a party last month for a friend who is involved in the Junior League of Denver, and she gave me a copy of Colorado Classique (the new Junior League of Denver cookbook) as part of my payment. The JLD cookbooks are a well-known source of fantastic recipes, so I was really excited to receive my very first one. I had the pleasure of tasting the peanut butter bars from the book at my friend’s house (absolutely incredible – I’ll be making and posting them soon), but I wanted my first selection from the book to be something well-suited for the winter-like weather we experienced here in Denver last week. I chose to go with the Kielbasa Black Bean Chili, and boy did I choose well. Dr. O and I enjoyed it so much that I have another pot simmering on the stove right now so we’ll have some to enjoy with football tomorrow.
To make the stew, I started off by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in my 8 1/2-quart Dutch oven. (You could probably get away with one that’s a bit smaller.) Next, I tossed in 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) of turkey kielbasa (quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces) and cooked it until it started to brown. (This took 10 minutes at my house; the recipe indicated 12 minutes.)
Using a slotted spoon, I transferred the kielbasa to a bowl and set it aside. You need to have to 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot before the next step, so add or subtract from the drippings if necessary. (My turkey kielbasa didn’t render much fat but did soak up some oil, so I had to add oil to the pot.) Still using medium-high heat, I added 2 cups of chopped onions, 1 coarsely chopped red bell pepper, 1 coarsely chopped green bell pepper, and 4 chopped garlic cloves to the pot. I sauteed them until they were beginning to brown (6 minutes at my house, 10 minutes in the recipe).
To the vegetable mixture, I added four 15-ounce cans of black beans (drained and rinsed), a 32-ounce box of chicken broth, a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice (undrained), 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 3 small bay leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried oregano, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin. I brought the chili to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduced the heat to medium, covered it, and simmered it for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, I returned the kielbasa to the pot and reduced the heat to low. I simmered the chili, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it was nice and thick, I seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste and served it with sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.
I could happily eat this once a week through the end of winter… It’s amazingly delicious, warm, and comforting. Plus, the recipe yields 8 servings, so we were able to have dinner twice plus a lunch for Dr. O on one night’s worth of cooking. It was wonderful the first night, but a tip included with the recipe was spot on: The chili really was even better the next day. This makes it perfect for casual entertaining; I’m going to put the chili, Dutch oven and all, into the refrigerator and then just gently reheat it tomorrow for the game.
TIPS: The bottom of my Dutch oven got pretty brown when I was browning the kielbasa, and the onions picked up the color when they were sauteeing. It didn’t cause any problems with the chili in terms of flavor or appearance, so don’t worry if this happens to you.
Kielbasa Black Bean Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
1 1/2 pounds turkey or beef kielbasa or Canino’s Bratwurst, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped onions
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 32-ounce box organic chicken broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
3 – 4 tablespoons chili powder, depending on desired spiciness
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 small bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons salt, or more to taste
Sour cream and chopped green onions for topping
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add kielbasa or bratwurst and saute 12 minutes or until beginning to brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer kielbasa or bratwurst to a bowl. If necessary, add more olive oil to drippings in pot to measure 2 tablespoons, or discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings. Add onions, both bell peppers, and garlic. Saute 10 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add beans, broth, tomatoes with juice, chili powder, sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, and cumin. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Return kielbasa or bratwurst to pot. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until chili is thick, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
Chili can be made a day ahead. Cool slightly; cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.
Source: Colorado Classique