Favorite Recipes from Fill Your Plate Moms: Smoky Three-Bean Beef Chili

Editor’s Note: We’ve asked some of our Fill Your Plate “Moms” to share some of their favorite recipes, especially those that can fill up the family and do it in a healthy way!

Smoky Three-Bean Beef Chili

By Jessica Schlievert, projectCSA.blogspot.com 

Pop quiz: How do you sneak a boatload of veggies into beef chili without tipping off your diners? Surprising answer: Eggplant! Here, small-diced, brined eggplant cooks down into a soft, silky background for smoky beef, creamy pinto beans, tangy tomatoes and hearty, toothsome French lentils. You’re probably wondering, “But where is this mysterious third bean you’ve promised?” Here’s what rounds out the best-textured chili you’ll ever eat: Dehydrated refried beans. They add an extra layer of smoky flavor and thicken this chili into some of the best you’ll ever have.

Three-Bean Chili (photo credit: Jessica Schlievert)

Three-Bean Chili (photo credit: Jessica Schlievert)

Ingredients (Yield: About 6 big servings): 

  • 3 c. diced brined eggplant (about two small eggplants, 1/4 – 1/3″ dice plus 1 t. sea salt)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-3 diced jalapenos or serranos (seeded for less heat)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • SPICE MIX (2 T. ancho chili powder, 2 t. cumin, 2 t. dried oregano, 1 1/4 t. smoked paprika, 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 t. sea salt)
  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1/4 t. liquid smoke
  • 1 T. hot sauce of your choice (optional)
  • 1, 28-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. lentils (I like French here, but green or red would work fine too)
  • 3/4 c. dehydrated or instant refried beans
  • 2 c. chicken broth

Optional toppings: Sour cream, shredded cheddar, diced green onion, jalapeno hot sauce, diced avocado

Directions: First, brine your eggplant (in a large colander, toss diced eggplant with 1 t. sea salt and let sit for about 30 minutes). In a large soup pot, saute onion in olive oil over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add garlic, tomato paste and spice mix, and stir for about 1 minute or until very fragrant. Add beef and stir until browned, 5-7 minutes. Add all other ingredients (including eggplant) and stir together. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom. The chili is ready when it’s very thick, eggplant is very tender, and lentils are cooked. Serve with whatever toppings you like!

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