Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Black Bean Chowder with Yogurt-Cilantro Relish

1 32-ounce package dried black beans
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Olive oil
1 small ham hock
1 4-oz can diced green chilies
6 cups chicken stock
6 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups chopped cucumber (peeled and seeded)
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place beans in a colander and rinse the beans well. Place in an 8-quart Dutch oven and cover with water (about an inch over the top of the beans) and soak overnight.

The next morning, prepare the relish by mixing all the ingredients together, then place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Then drain the beans and rinse them well.

Gently sauté the onion and garlic in the stock pot with 2 -3 TBSP of olive oil, then add diced green chiles. Place beans back in the Dutch oven and add chicken stock, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, cayenne and salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. After one hour is up, add the milk and 2 TBSP butter and simmer another 30 minutes. While the chowder is simmering, place the shredded cheese in a large bowl and add the flour, toss to coat the cheese with the flour. Bring the chowder to a boil and stir in the cheese. Boil while stirring constantly until the chowder thickens to your desired consistency. Ladle chowder into bowls and top with one or two TBSP of yogurt-cilantro relish placed in the center. Serve with warm tortillas.

For a more elegant presentation you could puree the chowder in batches in your blender and serve with the relish, but then it might be more of a soup than a chowder.

This was actually really good cold too, in fact my husband preferred it that way, but that could be because I made him test the recipe when it was about 85 degrees outside.

Busy Mom's shortcuts
You could certainly use canned black beans in this recipe to cut the time, but make sure to purchase good, quality beans and drain their liquid and rinse them well before cooking.

This recipe would lend itself nicely to the slow-cooker or roaster oven (as long as you have a big one). You could make the relish the night before and soak your beans overnight and the next morning you could drain and rinse the beans, throw everything into the slow-cooker and put it on low for 6-8 hours. There's nothing better than going about your busy day and having dinner ready in the evening!

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