It’s getting warmer, you guys! Spring has arrived to the Northern Hemisphere! Huzzah!
Here in Southeast Michigan, the early days of spring can often feel like what I’ve termed “Winter Lite.” Consistently warmer weather can take a while to get here; snow – at least a few whimpering, amount-to-nothing flakes – can be expected as far into spring as the end of April. So hearty meals such as this spicy sausage and sweet potato chili are still on the agenda for me.
Sausage + sweet potatoes = yum! I love the combo of sweet and savory – and in this case, spicy. Because yes, as with many of my dishes, I couldn’t resist being liberal with the high-intensity spices here. Guys, this chili brings the heat! It didn’t help that I used a spicy Italian sausage when I made it. I would recommend using a traditional Italian sausage to kick the spice factor down to a manageable level – unless you’re someone who really loves spicy (I do, and this was even a bit much for me). You could also eliminate the cayenne pepper or reduce the amount of chili powder you use – whatever works best for your taste.
Another note: if you are using dried beans, you will need to soak them in a bowl of water for at least eight hours, with several inches of water covering them. Then drain and rinse the beans, add them to a large pot of water, bring them to a boil, lower to a gently rolling simmer, and let them cook for 60 to 90 minutes. Once done, drain and rinse them again, and you are good to go!
The rest of the prep for this chili is quite quick and simple. I am not about simmering chili for hours and hours – because I would much rather get done with the cooking and get the glorious stuff in my belly!
-2 cups cooked pinto beans (about 3/4 cups dried)
-2 tbs. grapeseed oil
-1 1/2 lb. Italian sausage
-1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 cups diced tomatoes
-2 1/2 cups water
-2 tbs. plus 2 tsp. chili powder
-2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. black pepper
-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
-Grated cheese of your choice for garnish
Add a tablespoon of the grapeseed oil to a large frying pan. Remove the sausage from its casing and add it to the pan; break the sausage up into smaller pieces with a large spoon. Cook, stirring frequently, until you see no pink, about five to seven minutes. Drain the fat from the sausage and let cool.
To a large pot over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of grapeseed oil along with the sweet potato, onion, and jalapeño. Cook, stirring frequently, for about four minutes, then add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for an additional two minutes. Next, add the sausage, water, and spices and bring to a boil; then reduce to a gently rolling simmer and cook for at least 20 minutes. And that’s it! Top with a grated cheese of your choice, and it’s time for your belly to be happy! Makes about six hearty servings.