Do you ever think of all the foods that you hated as a kid, and absolutely love now? I do! All the time. I guess developing veggie-centric recipes for a living has something to do with that.
Chili was one of my least favorites. Just didn't like it. The flavor was too intense, maybe too spicy...I'm not sure. But then one day, that all changed. Someone brought a big pot of chili to a cookout and urged me to try a bite. It was probably the fact that it didn't look at all like the chili I was used to that did it, but I finally gave it a try, and guess what? I loved it! The flavor was mellow, just mildly spicy, and the texture was rich and creamy. I had just discovered chili blanco.
Chili blanco lacks the tomatoes that you find in conventional chili, as well as the chili powder. But I guess the fact that it resembles chili in other respects makes it okay to still call it a chili? Or maybe the fact that it often has chili peppers? I don't know, but in any event, it's delicious.
For this more grown up batch of chili blanco I've incorporated poblano peppers (which are chili peppers, so maybe that's where the name comes from?), fresh corn, and zucchini, since these summer veggies are all abundant right about now. Also, beer. I'm not a beer drinker, but I'm a big time beer eater, meaning I love cooking with it. I find beer works especially well with spicy stews like chili, and a milder beer like an ale is perfect for chili blanco. If you're not into cooking with beer you can substitute some vegetable broth — I'm sure the chili will still be tasty!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 medium poblano pepper seeded and diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 12 ounce bottle ale
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 3 14 ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels about 2 ears worth
- 1 medium zucchini chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for topping
- Avocado slices for topping (optional)
- Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and poblano pepper. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Add the beer, broth, beans, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Allow to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the corn and allow to continue cooking for 10 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until the chili is thick and the veggies are tender. You can add a bit of water during cooking if it becomes too thick.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the cilantro. Ladle the chili into bowls and top with additional cilantro and avocado slices. Serve.