Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 14, 2021

National Chili Month: Hominy-Guajillo-Bean Chili; A Food and Art Collaboration

It’s time again to celebrate the ultimate American contribution to world cuisine, chili.

November is National Chili Month.

Cooking at Under Western Skies is typically a collaboration. For this year, my creative fellow blogger at My Eclectic Cafe also proposed the visual approach, in addition to consulting on the recipe. See below for more about that.

This recipe includes three staples of the southwestern Native American diet.

First, the ingredient that is de rigeur — without which a dish is simply not chili — a chile or pepper of the genus Capsicum. In this case, I use a variety of C. annuum, the guajillo chile.

Guajillos are widely used in a wide range of Mexican and southwestern Native American cuisine. You may have encountered them if you’ve had mole. They’re dried forms of the mirasol chile. Guajillos are moderate in heat, and have a dark, mildly smoky flavor. The international section of your grocery probably has a rack of packaged spices and peppers, and that’s the best place to look for them.

The major ingredient in this recipe is either hominy or posole, almost-identical versions of corn (maize, to some readers). I’ve taken the simple route, using canned hominy. Posole comes in dried form, and requires considerable cooking time.

The other native food in this recipe is beans. Beans were a reliable source of protein in prehistoric times, and still today, especially when cooking a vegetarian dish, as is today’s. The native Mesoamericans would have used what we call an Anasazi bean. Because I’m going for a lightly golden color, I’ve used Great Northern beans.

I added some winter vegetables, but this is an eminently adjustable recipe, and vegetable add-ins are up to you.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons of olive oil or other vegetable oil

3 guajillo chiles. Cut the ends and get the seeds out.

1 medium onion, diced

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Anaheim or Fresno (green) pepper, diced

Approximately 3 cups of vegetable broth. Preferably as clear as possible.

1 large can of hominy, approximately 25 – 28 ounces, drained and washed

1 medium turnip, sliced into 1/2-inch cubes

2 carrots, orange, yellow or white, sliced into rounds

1 14-ounce can of white beans, drained and washed

Approximately 1 tsp salt, to your taste

Cooking

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed cooking pot. Sizzle the onion for several minutes, add the garlic, mix it in, then add the green pepper. Saute until onion is translucent and chile is tender.

Add the broth, hominy and guajillos. Gauge how much liquid you prefer in your chili. Some cooks prefer a soupier chili. Here at UWS, we prefer one that’s thicker. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add the turnips, carrots, beans and salt. Taste the chili. At some point you may determine it has enough flavor and heat from the guajillos. At that point, remove them. Tastes differ. Here at UWS, we like our chili spicy. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Now, you’re tasting for chile flavor, heat and salt, as well as to make certain the hominy is cooked: toothsome, not mushy or too chewy. (I removed 2 of my guajillos after 30 minutes, the 3rd after 1 hour.)

Once you’re satisfied, you have chili.

One final step you can consider is to puree a portion of the chili. That gives the chili a thicker texture, which some chili fanciers (including us here in the UWS kitchen) prefer. It’s your call. I used a “wand” or “stick” to puree the chili in the pot.

To Serve

Garnish your chili as you wish, for both flavor and color. We went multimedia, using slices of radish and chopped cilantro. Cheese is always a chili standby, but it’s all up to you.

You’ll want a crispy salad to round out the meal. Accompany your chili with some crusty bread, warm tortillas or — as we did — piping hot corn muffins.

Results?

The UWS Test Kitchen chefs were pleased with the result. Your chili will inevitably be different as you tailor it to your taste.

How a dish presents is also important. Here is our plating, courtesy of my collaborator and food stylist.

There are a number of things to be said about the above photo. For one, it’s an homage to one of the most accomplished contemporary American painters of the past century, who’s still painting as his 101st birthday approaches on November 15th.

His art was the inspiration my collaborator and consulting chef on this project followed in styling and photographing the chili. To learn more, I refer you to her photos and comments at My Eclectic Cafe. Please click on that link to see more photos and learn about our featured artist.

Prep time @ 30 minutes. Cooking time 1-1/2 – 2 hours. Serves 4 hungry people as a main course.

Happy National Chili Month.

Note: If your favorite cookbook or recipe website has a recipe for posole, it will almost certainly be, by definition, a form of chili, since most posole recipes use a variety of chile. Improvise on mine above, or take off from theirs. Comer con gusto.

Copyright Brad Nixon 2021. Chili bowls photo courtesy M. Vincent, copyright 2021.


Responses

  1. I don’t favor hominy — at all — and of course I live in a world where ‘vegetarian chili’ is considered an oxymoron. Still, your dish looks good (apart from that hominy). I was interested in the guajillo chiles, which I may or may not have met in a prepared dish somewhere. The El Guapo brand is on obvious display at my favorite local grocery; maybe I’ll try using them in a different recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was admittedly the most serious attempt we’d made to feature them, and we liked ’em. Plenty of close alternatives with ancho chiles and others, too!
      And, yes, I know the phrase “vegetarian chili” doesn’t travel far in Texas. At lease I’m not trying to sell any Texans on “vegetarian barbecue.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • It just now occurred to me that I do make a ‘white chili’ with chicken, onion, and white beans. That might be a good place to experiment with these unfamiliar chilis, especially as I like a smoky flavor.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good idea! This started out in the direction of a white chili, but ended up more golden.

        Like

    • It depends on how you circumscribe that world. In Austin, vegetarian chili isn’t so strange.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No place as big as Texas is any one thing!

        Like

  2. The link in your text didn’t work for me, but I found the post at

    https://myeclecticcafe.wordpress.com/2021/11/14/national-chili-month-at-the-cafe-the-art-of-chili-a-collaboration/

    I’m not sure I’d heard of Wayne Thiebaud.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Distressing to learn I failed at the link. Thank you for the correction, and for seeking out the correct one. I believe I’ve fixed it.

      Like


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