I am no great football fan. I lose interest in the days between the weekly games; I waver in my allegiance to my childhood hometown team and my current hometown team (a transition that amounts to treason, depending on who you ask); and a conversation about the various positions usually sounds more like a discussion about pocket change than a starting line-up to me.
There are other things about the game, though, that I do love: the excitement (running errands this morning, I saw no fewer than two dozen Bears jersey-clad Chicagoans, all before the hour of 10 am; kick-off, it should be noted, is 7 pm); sunshiney afternoons on the couch; and, most of all, the food.
There are chicken wings, guacamole, nachos, sandwiches of all kinds. But the best football food of all is chili. A football Sunday isn’t complete without a big pot full of spicy, burbling, delicious chili. And I’ve settled on my go-to recipe this season. It’s a vegetarian version that gets a deep, earthy flavor thanks to a heap of spices and a palmful of instant espresso—and I think it deserves a spot on the menu for your next Football Sunday. (Or Football Monday, or Thursday, or College Game Day Saturday, as it were. Not that I’m counting.)
Black Bean & Espresso Chili
1/2 cup olive oil
5 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup dried oregano leaves
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with added puree
1/3 cup honey
6 large garlic cloves, minced
7 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
2 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or chili powder
Large pinch of ground cinnamon
Assorted toppings: sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped green onions, shredded cheese, sliced jalapeños, and shaved bittersweet chocolate
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Mix in espresso powder, 1/4 cup chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook 1 minute. Mix in tomatoes, honey, and garlic. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Add beans, 2 cups water, salt, chipotle chili powder, and cinnamon. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until mixture thickens slightly, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Season with salt. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving.)
Place toppings in individual condiment bowls. Ladle chili into bowl and serve toppings alongside.