Winter Comfort in a Bowl - Cornbread Topped Chili
It's been a warm winter so far, but January is set to be mean and cold. The best thing we can do is tuck in and get cozy with comfort food. Even in the cold, there are plenty of ways to bring in ingredients from local farms and businesses (I've included resources below corresponding to ingredients marked with an asterisk).
I'm a big fan of Nigella Lawson, but I had to take her London recipe and make it my own with some Kentucky goodies. This recipe is closely adapted from two chili recipes she published in her cookbook Feast.
Meaty Chili with Cornbread Crust
FOR THE CHILI:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium butternut squash*, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
1 tsp cayenne*, or to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp bourbon smoked paprika *
2 lbs ground beef*
4 cups chopped tomatoes* (or two cans)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tbsp ketchup
1 can kidney beans
Keep a cup of water near the stove to thin as needed
FOR THE CORNBREAD
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups cornmeal*
2 tbsp all purpose* or gluten free flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
1 tsp honey* (I feel this is a bit stingy and could do with a bit more, but it's up to you)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Grated cheese* & sour cream
Make this a one pot meal - heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole dish that can hold the chili ingredients and cornbread topping. Once the oil is hot, fry the onion until it begins to soften, then add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more, until the onion becomes near translucent. Add the spices and stir well.
Tip the ground beef into the spiced onion mix and stir to brown as much as possible. Follow the beef with the cubed butternut squash and stir well. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and ketchup, mixing to make a thick sauce. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer until the squash is soft, about 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the chili as it cooks and add water if needed a little at a time (though this should be a thick chili). Once the squash is cooked, drain and add the kidney beans and add salt and pepper to taste.
While the chili simmers, prepare the cornbread. You have two options - you can make this from scratch, or use the Louismill's smoked cornbread mix. If you chose the latter, simply follow the instructions on the package and spread the mix on top of the prepared chili. Bake per the mix instructions, making sure the chili is bubbling beneath. Remember, your chili is already cooked, so you are just finishing the job!
If you choose to make the cornbread from scratch, prepare the batter as the chili simmers. Preheat your oven to 425. Combine the salt, cornmeal, flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl. In a second bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, honey and oil. Stir the wet into the dry to make the batter, and pour over the chili. It doesn't have to be beautiful. Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until the bread has risen golden and the chili is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let stand about 5 minutes before slicing the top or just spooning heaps of chili and crusted topping.
This is definitely un-fancy, comforting, bowl food. Feel free to serve with shredded cheddar and sour cream if you're that kind of person.
*LOCAL PRODUCTS RESOURCE LIST
Cayenne - try Foxhollow Farm's for some serious spice
Smoked Paprika - Bourbon Barrel Food's paprika is unbeatable
Tomatoes - Were you clever and canned seconds last summer?
Cornmeal, Flour & Cornmeal Mix - all can be purchased locally from Louismill
Buttermilk - Try J.D.'s - it's to die for
Eggs & Honey - Rainbow Blossom should have a selection of local eggs & honey, if you don't already have a favorite
Kenny's Cheese - if you haven't tried it, you haven't lived