By Karin Calloway
Lamb and Black Bean Chili Mole
Chili is a wonderful dish for cooks who like to experiment in the kitchen. A little of this, a little of that, and you may just cook up a signature chili all your own. There are many ways to vary the dish – using chicken, lamb or pork instead of the usual beef, adding spice with fresh jalapenos or smoky chipotle peppers, adding an unexpected flavor boost from cinnamon or cocoa powder or mixing up the beans.
This Lamb and Black Bean Chili Mole was the result of one such kitchen experiment. The unique, gamey flavor of lamb is layered with fresh jalapeno, the usual chili seasonings or cumin, oregano and chile powder, a hint of sweet from brown sugar and depth of flavor from cocoa powder. Like most chili recipes, the flavors improve if made a day or more in advance.
There are two options when it comes to the lamb for the recipe. You could purchase a 2-pound boneless leg of lamb and cut it into small pieces or use 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground lamb. The accompanying photo shows the recipe when made with ground lamb. If your family doesn’t love the flavor of lamb, substitute extra lean ground beef or a bottom round roast cut into small pieces. Add some corn muffins (see Lowfat Corn Muffins on this site) and a tossed salad for a winter meal that will surely satisfy.
Brown remaining lamb cubes, remove from skillet to the dinner plate and set aside. If using ground lamb, heat the olive oil in the skillet, season the ground lamb with salt and pepper and brown in the hot skillet until no longer pink. Drain well and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil and add the jalapeno, cumin, onion and bell pepper in the same skillet. Saute until vegetables are soft and begin to turn golden. Add the garlic, cocoa powder and nutmeg and stir 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and stock or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and return the lamb to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in the black beans and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes more. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 servings.