I was so excited when my most recent e-issue of EatingWell This Week arrived in my inbox: healthy slow-cooker recipes! Hooray! What was even more exciting was that this recipe wasn't going to include all the same ol' ingredients that make so many slow-cooker meals taste all the same.
But let's take a minute and talk about some of these ingredients. They might seem a little intimidating if you've never cooked with them. Take tomatillos, for example:
I've been eying tomatillos at Whole Foods for ages but I never knew what to do with them. I just about jumped out of my seat when I saw that this recipe used them! Tomatillos look kind of like small green tomatoes, but they are all wrapped up in a paper husk. They're tart, they're the main ingredient in salsa verde and you can find them in the produce aisle at your local market (I assume. I live in California and sometimes take it for granted that we have so much fabulous produce to choose from!).
Chipotle peppers may also be foreign to you. They are just smoked jalapeno peppers, usually canned with adobo sauce. Find them along with the Mexican food at your grocery store.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 5-8 hours
Servings: 10 1-cup portions
1 pound dried black beans (2 1/2 cups), rinsed*
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mustard seeds
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
8-16 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped (about 4-8 tomatillos)
1/4 cup water
5 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (note: that's one pepper not one can of peppers!)
grated Monterey or pepper Jack cheese
reduced-fat sour cream
chopped fresh cilantro
1. Soak beans overnight in 2 quarts water. Drain beans, rinse and discard liquid.**
2. In a 5- to 6- quart dutch oven, combine oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, cumin and cardamom. Place over high heat and stir until the spices sizzle (about 30 seconds).
3. Add onions, mushrooms, tomatillos and water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are juice (5-7 minutes).
4. Uncover and stir often until the juices evaporate and vegetables are lightly browned (10-15 minutes). Add broth, tomato paste and chipotles. Mix well.
5. Place beans in a 5- to 6- quart slow cooker. Pour hot vegetable mixture over the beans. Cook on high heat for about 8 hours, until the beans are creamy.***
6. Garnish and enjoy! We ate this with buttermilk cornbread on the side.
* want to use canned black beans instead? If I were substituting in this recipe, I would use 3 cans black beans, omit step 1 and in step 5 cook on high 3-4 hours or on low 6-8 hours.
** if you don't have time to soak overnight, place beans and 2 quarts water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand one hour).*** Stovetop version: increase broth to 8 1/2 cups. Omit step 5, add beans to Dutch oven instead. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until beans are creamy, about 3 hours.
1. Chipotle peppers freeze well which is great because most recipes call for just one. I bag them individually (1-2 chiles per bag) with a teaspoon or two of the adobo sauce. Don't forget to label each bag with the number of chiles. Then place all the bags in one quart-size freezer bag and stick them in your freezer! If using a frozen chipotle for this recipe (and if you don't mind the extra heat from the seeds), chop it up while frozen. This makes the chopping SO much easier!
2. Freeze half this recipe in a gallon-sized ziploc freezer bag (remove as much air as possible, lay flat to freeze). Thaw and reheat on one of those days when you just can't cook!