Admission time here…I had never cooked a sweet potato.
Heck, I’ve barely even eaten a sweet potato. They’re so…orange. And covered in marshmallows. It’s kind of sticky and gross. So, when I was in Iowa last week on the Iowa Corn Tour with a few of my fellow bloggers, imagine my reaction to learn that we would be making (and consuming) Sweet Potato Chili.
Chili is beans. Beans, and peppers and tomatoes and meat. NOT sweet potatoes with cinnamon and sugar. Meat.
We divvied up into 4 groups out there in Iowa. The bloggers were joined with the Iowa Corn Grower reps, a couple of pig farmers, and a couple of corn farmers. I was in the group that made Stuffed Pork Loin, along with my new friends Jay (The Corn Farmer), and Tanya from Mommy Goggles. Let it be known that Tanya finds it funny to put her fingers in the pockets of pork loin, then make clucking noises as she animates the meat. I tried not to laugh…I wonder if she noticed? And Jay was one heck of a trooper, even when I advised him to throw the leeks in with the apples, and then blamed the idea on him. (Which was against the rules, but we made it work. I like farmers.)
Anyway, another group made mushroom risotto. Another group made Apple Dumplings. The 4th group made that scary sounding chili. When all was said and done, we sat down as a big group and ate everything we cooked together, kind of like a modern day Thanksgiving, bloggers and farmers, except surrounded by Sub Zero and Wolf appliances instead of pilgrim and indian children and wild deer. It was amazing.
I watched the others, then I tentatively tasted the chili. Oh. My. Lord. It was outstanding! Sweet potatoes are just like potatoes, except…a little sweeter! And all those beans, which I typically think I hate on the premise that they are BEANS that aren’t GREEN, were perfect. The chili powder provided a kick, but the cilantro and orange zest counteracted it with a punch of unexpected freshness. It was just about the best tasting, most unusual appetizer I have ever eaten!
Once I returned home, I was here a whopping 6 hours before I started to recreate it. Six whole hours. But I had ideas, you see. As you may have noticed, I’ve been cooking a lot here lately with Mr.Jim Beam. And this chili would be perfect for a day of crisp autumn tailgating, so why not marry the two once again? I also decided to take the consistancy up a notch. In Iowa, it was more of a thin soup. Here, I wanted it to be thick and substantial, even able to dip into with chips if you wanted. So that’s what I did. I made it my own…and let me tell you – it is some kind of delicious.
3 Bean Beam & Sweet Potato Chili
inspired by a recipe from Chef Terrie Kohl of Country Club Market
Makes 10 servings
- 4 Tablespoons Salted Butter
- 1 Teaspoon Minced Wet Garlic
- 1 Sweet Onion, chopped
- 1/4 Cup Jim Beam Bourbon
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 2 cups Vegetable Stock
- 1 1/2 pounds Sweet Potatoes, cut into cubes
- 2 – 15oz. cans Mild Green Chili Diced Tomatoes, not drained
- 1 can Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Lime & Cilantro, drained
- 1 – 15oz can Black Eyed Peas, drained
- 1 – 15oz. can Black Beans, drained
- 1 – 19oz can Cannellini Beans, drained
- 1 can Sweet Corn, drained
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
- 1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
- 1/2 Tablespoons Lime Zest
Melt butter in large dutch oven or pot. Add onions and cook over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add in bourbon and continue to cook an additional 5 minutes. Add chili power and stir, cooking for another minute.
Add vegetable stock and sweet potatoes, and cook on medium/low for about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and beans, then simmer for roughly 10 more minutes. Add corn and cook 5 additional minutes. When ready, add zest and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips if desired, and enjoy!
I promise that I will posting about my trip to Iowa in the very near future. I have so much to share! However, I have a LOT of information to sort through, and I want to do additional research on my own, so that I can present you with the most informed decision I can. I will tell you though, that I had a wonderful time, and met a variety of very dedicated, fun, and loving people on my journey. I won’t forget it.
Have a great week folks!