A few months back I confessed to knowing little about professional baseball. I’m also equally in the dark about football. For example, I didn’t know until 20 years into our relationship that Mr. Mom’s Kitchen was a quarterback for his high school football team. It was a crime of immense ignorance according to my friend Kate, who is from Texas where all things football carry enormous social currency. She said even she knew he was the quarterback.

What I do know is that my hometown team, the 49ers, won a big game on Saturday, and that two more big games loom in the near future. I thought I’d arm you with a game day recipe for Chili Topped Sweet Potatoes that is a whole lot more nourishing than typical football fare. It’s also equally appropriate for a family supper, which is how we’ve been enjoying it around here.

Chili is often heavy in beef, pork, and sausage, which is likely why it was found to be one of the nine most fattening winter foods as reported in this article. A single bowl of chili (from Chili’s, no less) packs in 35 grams of fat (15 of those, the “heart unhealthy” saturated kind).

This Black Bean Chili relies on a combination of beans and ground turkey instead of fatty meats for its heft, making it rich in fiber, folate and protein. Serving it over roasted sweet potatoes adds a boatload of nutrients and makes it truly a one-dish meal since your vegetable is built in. The chili has plenty of flavor, but is light on spiciness given the kid factor. If you want to turn up the heat, include a few dashes of cayenne when you add the other spices, or a minced jalapeno when you add the cilantro.

While the recipe requires little in the way of hands-on time (the only real prep is chopping an onion and garlic cloves), it does take patience for the beans to cook tender and the flavors to meld. I’m sure those of you skilled with a slow cooker could adapt the chili so there’s no pot watching. If you do, please share your crock pot “how to” with the rest of us. You could also make this healthy chili, which Stephanie O’Dea of Crockpot365 adapted from a Barack Obama recipe. I found it pretty tasty and it didn’t seem to impact my political views one way or the other. If you make it, use black beans instead of kidney; they pair better with sweet potatoes.

For other game-day eats, consider Healthier Homemade Ranch for a veggie dip, and Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches, or Walking Tacos for the main dish. As for me, I’ll probably do up a big pot of the chili to enjoy with my family and friends…..and my very own quarterback.

 

BLACK BEAN CHILI TOPPED SWEET POTATOES

Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried black beans (1 generous cup)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion , chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • One 26-ounce box or one 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 5 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • Up to 6 small to medium roasted sweet potatoes (see Notes for cooking instructions)

Instructions

  1. Pour beans into a large bowl and sort through them, removing any small stones. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the beans by several inches. Soak overnight or for at least 8 hours. Drain.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, lidded pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until it begins to turn tender and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two, being sure it doesn’t brown or burn. Add the turkey, chili powder, cumin, paprika, pepper, and salt, and cook, stirring regularly, until the turkey is cooked through. Break up the meat into crumbly bits, like taco meat, as it cooks.
  3. Add the soaked and drained beans, tomatoes, and water to the pot and stir well. Turn the heat to high and cook until the liquid hits a full boil. Drop the heat enough so the boil slows to a gentle bubble, put on the lid and cook 1 hour. Remove the lid and continue to cooks until the liquid reduces and the beans are tender, another 30 to 45 minutes. If the chili is too thick, add a little more water. If it’s too thin, turn the heat up and let it boil rapidly until the chili thickens to your liking. Add the cilantro and stir. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  4. To serve, slit roasted sweet potatoes down the center and squeeze them to open up the orange fleshy insides. Spoon a generous serving of chili on top. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

Recipe Notes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Make as many sweet potatoes as you have diners. For family members with petite appetites, choose smaller sweet potatoes. For bigger appetites, go with a medium-size potato.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry sweet potatoes, prick several times with the tip of a sharp paring knife, and set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cook until the potatoes are very tender all the way through, begin to lose their shape a bit, and ooze their natural sugars. The time will vary from roughly 40 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the potato. If you want your chili and sweet potatoes to be done at about the same time, put the potatoes into the oven after the chili has been on the stove for 30 to 40 minutes.