Being a cowgirl, I loves me some chili! I am not a big meat eater so I try to incorporate bits of it into my dishes so I get some animal proteins and in the case of steak, flavah!!!! I eat beans of all types using herbs and spices to enhance their flavors, but a little bit of beef is tasty and adds fat and protein. Black beans are the currently chic bean, but I’m not enthusiastic about that choice for chili. Perhaps they are not sufficiently 50’s Arizona for me and I just consider kidney to be the real deal.
IMPORTANT: Kidney beans need to be thoroughly cooked or they are poisonous! DO NOT cook them in a slow cooker. At the low temp of slow cookers, they just don’t get hot enough. You need to boil them at 212 degrees F for at least 10 minutes for the toxins to be deactivated. Honest!
I’m always looking for ways to add veggies to any dish and I have found the perfect choices for this dish in butternut squash, kale and roasted corn, all of which you can find in the freezer section. I’m big on frozen foods. Most folks eat only a third of the recommended amount of fruits and veggies. Why? Because you have to wash them, cut them, you can store them only a very short time before they start to get icky. Easier to just not! So, I choose frozen. Generally, they are processed at the peak of ripeness when they have developed their nutrients fully, unlike fresh which are plucked slightly before this stage and ripen in the truck, on the shelf, on the counter. Longer on the vine equals more chance to have the nutrients your body needs. Processing frozen food loses some nutrition, but not eating any gives you a big fat 0!
Though butternut squash is considered to be a winter squash, factually it is grown over the summer and harvested in the fall! Its lovely tough, gold skin protects it, allowing it to be stored for several months, so you can eat it “fresh” in the winter. Or, you can just buy it frozen, dug out of that hard to cut skin, seeds scooped and chopped into nice cubes for your cooking pleasure! Butternut squash provides a good supply of vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. I’m always working to increase my fiber intake to keep my gut healthy and my body seems to hold sodium, and waste potassium, so I like to eat foods high in this important mineral.
Then there’s kale, the healthy poster child of the millennium. It forms a nice binder in this dish and kinda disappears under the chipotle.
The last main ingredient is roasted corn. And, it’s gotta be roasted. I buy it frozen, at Trader Joe’s and it imparts a delicately smokiness that blends well with the chili flavor. Corn has gotten a bad rep because it is high is carbs, but I lost 60 lbs. eating a fair amount of carbs- all in whole foods- and, it is a good gut builder. Corn contain vitamin B and C as well as magnesium and potassium, my favorite minerals. Eating corn and beans together is a good idea because it makes up a complete protein.
And, where’s the steak? I consider it a flavor enhancer. I grill it and then cut it into tiny pieces so that I can taste some in every bite. Even though I am very active, it is my belief that the amount of protein I get from plants, supplemented with some turkey, chicken, fish and beef works for me. The shape of my legs shows that I am building muscle from the activities that I do which is way important for us old ladies. Everybody has different protein needs though. This is just what works well for me.
What is chipotle? It’s simply a jalapeno that is smoke dried, giving it a depth of flavor that I really enjoy. I can remember going to barbeques at the Phoenix Elks’ Club with my family back in the 50’s, smelling grilled corn, spicy beans and meat cooked over an open fire for the first time. I was probably around 8, a skinny kid who had to be coaxed to eat, but not this!!! Decades later, I still crave that bar-be taste!
Being a lazy chef, I used all dried herbs. Feel free to use fresh!
This will make about a dozen servings. I usually keep out about 4 servings and freeze the rest.
2 cups red kidney beans
1 cups water for soak
1 bag frozen kale (My particular bags are 8 oz. but you can use other similar sizes and get the same dish, I think.)
1 bag frozen butternut squash
1 bag frozen roasted corn
1-2 lb. your favorite kind of steak (I use New York strip)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cilantro flakes
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon sage
1 teaspoon celery flakes
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1. Wash and remove extraneous particles from, and soak your beans overnight in water. Use enough water to cover at least 4 inches over the top of your beans.
2. In the morning, drain your beans, give them a good rinse and put them in your pot adding enough fresh water to bring it about 2 inches higher than the beans. Bring to a hard boil for 10 minutes. After this, reduce to a slightly bubbling simmer. Stir them often so that they cook evenly. Start checking for done in about 45 minutes.
3. Grill your steak to whatever doneness you prefer. Allow to cool and then cut into the size pieces you prefer. Me, I like to spread them out, so I cut them little.
4. I cook my veggies separately to ensure that they don’t get overcooked. Beans can cook at different rates depending on how old they are, so I cook them, then set them aside in a bowl while my veggies cook. Add all herbs and spices to veggies. I check my veggies often so that they are tender, but not overcooked.
5. Then I put them all together in a big bowl, and I add the olive oil and mix it all up.
Serve with anything that you think would be tasty on chili- cheese, chopped onions, sour cream, tortilla chips, avocado, salsa, a baked potato!!!!