RECIPE

Zucchini Chili

I rarely cook up a pot of chili where I don’t add a good shot of beer. Maybe it’s because my dad used to cook with it, like when he made gumbo (he’s from Louisiana). It adds a nice tang.

Ingredients

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm small to medium zucchini, chopped into small dice
  • 2 onions, chopped into small dice
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red or green hot chili pepper, chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin (a palmful)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander (a palmful)
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram (1/3 palmful)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 bottle beer, such as Negra Modelo (12 ounces)
  • 1 can black beans (15 ounces)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup long grain white rice or light brown rice
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed (optional)
  • Toppers to choose from: crushed tortillas or warm soft tortillas, sour cream, shredded cheeses, scallions or finely chopped onions, lime wedges

Preparation

Char the poblanos all over on the stovetop over a gas flame or under the broiler with the oven door ajar to let steam escape. Place the poblanos in a bowl and cover tightly. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skins with a paper towel, then halve and seed the chiles. Process into a coarse puree in a food processor.

In a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat the EVOO (4 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, onions, garlic, red chile, cumin, coriander, thyme, oregano, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the beer. Stir in the poblanos, beans, and 2 cups of the stock. Bring to a bubble, then reduce to a simmer and cook 10 to 15 minutes to combine flavors.

[Make-ahead: Cool and refrigerate.]

[Night of: Return the chili to room temp before reheating gently over medium heat while you cook the rice.]

In a food processor, combine the spinach, cilantro (if using), and a little salt, and pulse into a fine paste.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the rice and toast 1 or 2 minutes, then stir in the remaining 1½ cups stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook 15 minutes. Stir the spinach paste into the rice, turn off the heat, re?cover the pot, and let the rice stand another 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Serve the rice in shallow bowls topped with zucchini chili and garnishes of choice.

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Rachael Ray