Theresa’s Chili with Avocado Garnish

Chili with Avocado 2Whoa. The holidays totally kicked my butt. Thus, the very shameful hiatus in posting anything. And I don’t live in the Midwest anymore. I really don’t have an excuse. My poor parents and everyone else living with the Polar Vortex must be going bananas. Here in California, we are dealing with a different kind of winter weirdness in the midst of a severe drought combined with super warm days. I honestly can’t remember the last time it rained, or when it was even cloudy. We are starting to organize rain dances in my office (I work with a bunch of biologists whose work also depends on rain), and I am adding some of my personal hope in those prayers to bring rain to the grove and all California farmers.

Chili with Avocado 1When dealing with outward stresses such as weird winters and unknown futures, like most people, I turn to comfort food. So here is a recipe from my sister for chili to warm the soul. For those of you who have not tried avocado as a topping to your chili, you are missing out. Once I tried it, I have not been able to have chili without avocado. I tried to get my husband to nail down his recipe for his chili made with beef chuck and ancho chiles, but he’s a hard one to nail down. Next time he makes it, I’ll write it all down and post it as well for a mini intra-family chili cook-off. Like guacamole, everyone seems to have their own take on chili (see prior guacamole recipe post).

Theresa’s Chili with Avocado Garnish
Serves 4

2 cups dried chili beans (mix of black, pinto, red, and kidney beans)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)

½ red bell pepper, diced (about ½ cup)

½ yellow bell pepper, diced (about ½ cup)

½ orange bell pepper, diced (about ½ cup)

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

3-4 cups water

Sour cream, shredded cheddar, and chopped avocado, for garnish

Place dried beans in a large glass bowl and cover with approximately 2 inches of water. Soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans and rinse with cold water, picking out any bad ones. Transfer to a large pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes until beans are almost tender.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large soup pot over high heat and brown beef. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in peppers, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper.

Drain the par-cooked beans and add to the chili along with whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a spoon or just use your hand. Bring the chili to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until beans are fully cooked and flavors have deepened. Serve hot in individual bowls topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, and avocado.

Recipe and photography by Theresa Gilliam. Her recently published cookbook, Bacon 24 7, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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