Comfort Food Bomb: Chili and Cornbread

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Chili and cornbread is one of my ultimate favorite comfort foods. My mom used to make tamale pie, basically just a can of chili with Jiffy cornbread baked on top, and that flavor combination will be imprinted on my taste buds forever.

I’m definitely behind on the chile game because I recently figured out that you can rehydrate those fat, red chiles you see in the super market that are dried and packaged in cellophane. Now I’ve been rehydrating them and adding them to EVERYTHING because they add a smoky flavor punch. None of the ones I’ve rehydrated ended up being spicy, so you are pretty safe there. I like the chile pasilla, or chile negro, the best. But they are pretty affordable so buy a few packages and play around to see what you like.

Now, I’ve never made chili with sausage, but I still had some homemade Portuguese sausage leftover from Christmas (it was frozen, calm down) and thought it would make chili assembly easier because I wouldn’t have to chop 900 cloves of garlic and fuss over the seasonings. It was a hit! If you’re not into it, sub ground beef, turkey or whatever you like. Horse? Oh and have fun chopping that garlic.

So can we eat chili now? With rehydrated chile negro and sausage and cornbread? Can I top mine with avocado and sour cream (Greek yogurt is a fantastic substitute) and cilantro? Let’s serve it with mugs of black coffee and pretend we’re cowboys gathered around the fire after a long day of ranching. Ok? Dig in!

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Sausage Chili with Rehydrated Chile Negro
serves 4

2 dried chile negro, stems and seeds removed
2 cups water
2 chipotle peppers (from a can)
1 can tomato sauce
1 lb Portuguese sausage, casings removed (or other spicy pork sausage, like chorizo).
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 cans kidney beans, drained
1 TBL cumin
2 dashes red pepper (or more if you like it hot)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a small sauce pan bring the dried chiles and the 2 cups of water to a boil. Turn down heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain all but 1/2 cup of the water. Add the chipotle peppers and tomato sauce to the sauce pan with the chiles and water and use an immersion blender to blend it all up into a smooth sauce. If you don’t have an immersion blender, pour ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Pour sauce into a slow cooker.

In a large sautee pan, cook sausage over medium high until browned, stirring to crumble, about 8 minutes. Add cooked sausage to slow cooker. Add onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add that to the slow cooker.

Add rest of ingredients to the slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve with your favorite cornbread recipe or a box of Jiffy. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, cilantro, pickled jalapeno, chopped green onion…I better stop, this list could go on and on. But more importantly, enjoy!

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