Posted by: Brad Nixon | October 30, 2015

National Chili Month: Roasted Route One Chili

National Chili Month is nearly done, so we’re getting this one in just under the wire. We love to get out the big chili pot and celebrate this important holiday. Because we’re in the midst of a series of blog posts about traveling through Oregon, and because in the next post we hit the coast and drive along U.S. Route 101, we’re getting fired up with Roasted Route One Chili. The base is route … I mean root vegetables.

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Let us gather the ingredients. Feel free to improvise based on availability and your taste.

  • 1 each medium sized sweet potato, rutabaga and turnip
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2/3 of a brown onion
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 largish jalapeño peppers. Note: the heat of jalapeños can vary widely; we knew these were mild. You may be satisfied with one, or wish to substitute a different pepper altogether, but a dish requires chile pepper in order to qualify as chili.

We’re going to make lentil chili rather than bean, so you’ll need:

  • 1 cup dry lentils, well-rinsed
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp chili powder to taste (we used 1 tsp of Penzey’s ground chipotle, which is quite hot)
  • A pinch of turmeric.
  • Finally, olive oil, additional water, salt and black pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Top, tail, peel and dice the vegetables. The rutabaga is more fibrous, so dice it smaller. Put them in an oiled baking dish, toss to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 30-40 minutes. Ours were fine in half an hour.

Once the vegetables are in the oven, bring the lentils to a boil in 3 cups of water then simmer until barely firm, about 15-20 minutes; they’re going to cook some more with the lentils.

Dice the onion, garlic and jalapeños. Remember that it’s the inner pulp that gives the chiles their heat (NOT the seeds), so the more pulp you remove, the less the heat. Also, the finer you dice them, the more heat they lend to a dish.

Briskly sauté the garlic, onion and jalapeno in a heavy bottomed pot for a few minutes, then turn down the heat to simmer. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them, reserving the water, and add the lentils to the sautéed veggies. Add the reserved lentil water and additional water, if necessary to achieve the consistency you prefer for of your chili.

Stir in the turmeric and chili powder to your taste.

When the roasted vegetables are ready, add them to the pot, stir in gently and adjust the water level. Simmer long enough to infuse the flavors into the vegetables.

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We served our Roasted Route 1 Chili over brown rice, topped with chopped cashews for some crunch.

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We found this another win for the Under Western Skies Chili Kitchen.

Serves about 6 unless they’ve been hewing wood or digging ditches. Total prep and cooking time @ 75 minutes (2 people prepping).

If you feel your chili must have tomatoes, add fresh or canned tomatoes or tomato paste to the sautéed vegetables before adding the lentils.

Another year, another National Chili Month. We make chili year-round, but enjoy featuring it here during October. Got a favorite? We’d enjoy hearing about it in a comment.

Buon appetito.

© 2015 Brad Nixon. Chili photo courtesy M. Vincent. All rights reserved.

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