Drops of rain on window glass and gray skies as far as the eye can see. Chilled air, long sleeved shirts and colorful umbrellas dot the streets. Autumn has finally hit Portugal and I'm in heaven.
As a girl from the rainy valleys of Oregon, I love rain and clouds. It makes me feel at home. I love it so much I don't even use an umbrella when I go out. This kind of weather makes me happy and energetic. I'm the opposite of many (also seen as crazy by a good portion of those "many"), I know. This is the beginning of my favorite half of the year. It's also the beginning of the season of comfort foods.
My go to comfort food happens to be chilli. Spicy, comforting, filling chilli. Something that just screams autumn and winter with its dark earthy colors and flavors and the ability to make everything feel better after eating a bowl of it with a slice of warm fresh baked bread. But sometimes I make too much and have enough for a week's worth of comfort and need it to change, ever so slightly. This is when I do things like stuffing said chilli into vibrant red bell peppers.
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 chilli pepper of your choice (Optional), chopped
- 1 pound (450g) ground beef or stew beef cut in chunks
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 4-6 tomatoes diced or a couple cans of already diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 bell pepper, seeds and stem removed and diced
- 1 large can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large can white beans, drained and rinsed
- leftover coffee from the morning pot
- salt to taste
- cilantro/coriander as garnish
Note: You don't need to use different types of beans, feel free to use your favorite. I tend to go for black beans as they have some of the most fiber of all beans. For the spices used in this recipe, I usually eyeball it, so the measurements are approximate, taste your food to get the right amount of each for your tastes!
Place a rather large pot on over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Next, add in onion and garlic and allow to brown, stirring occasionally. The chilli pepper next, remembering to stir so nothing burns. You can remove the chili pepper if you don't want it to be too spicy, or you can remove the seeds before you add it to the pot.
Toss the beef in and allow it to brown, again stirring occasionally. Once the beef is browned and mixed with the onion, garlic and chilli add in the paprika, cumin, cayenne and cocoa powder and stir, allowing it to cook about a minute before adding in the tomatoes and paste. Mix well.
Add bell pepper and beans to the pot, filling with enough water to just cover the beans, peppers and meat. Pour in the coffee from the morning. If you don't have any coffee feel free to leave this out, but I swear that it adds an extra something to the flavor.
Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer (just at or under medium heat) cover and allow to stew for at the very least an hour, but I'd let it cook a couple of hours, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking and adding water as it cooks to keep it wet like a stew but not drowning like a soup. The longer it cooks or sits, the more the flavors meld and the better it tastes (second day chilli is always better!).
Salt and pepper should be added about 10 minutes before you plan to eat, this will keep it from being too salty as the water evaporates. Serve warm with a few cilantro leaves on top and maybe some shredded cheese and a hunk of crusty bread.
To turn your yummy chilli into chilli stuffed peppers. I'd suggest this a day or two after the first day it was cooked, but if you don't want to wait that long, go ahead and make it when you feel like it!
Take a knife and insert it into the top of the pepper, cutting around the stem and remove it. Wash out the little seeds and drain the water from the pepper as you prep the other peppers (you should be able to do at least four unless of course you couldn't quit eating the chilli). Place the peppers on a baking sheet with the hole up.
Spoon in the chilli until it reaches the top of the pepper, top with a cheese slice or shredded cheese. Rinse and repeat until all of your peppers are done. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F (180C) for about 20-30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.