Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each Tuesday with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by the book coauthored by the two, Almost Meatless, due out in spring.
Look, I'm just going to shoot this straight. I think Valentine's Day is ridiculous. I can't recall ever being a fan, but I'm certain I declared my independence freshman year in college when I received flowers from my brother, who lived across campus (the card read, "Here are some flowers. From, Your Brother"), which may have been sort of nice had I not quickly uncovered the truth behind the scam: My mother made him do it.
Even now, happily one half of a very Valentiney marriage, I wouldn't blink if the day came and went without a card or gift or morsel of chocolate (though I welcome chocolate any day of the year). I'm not into dreaming up red and pink food or aphrodisiac concoctions to mark the occasion, and to even consider going out to a restaurant on Valentine's Day, I'd require monetary compensation (a restaurant kitchen is, indeed, a miserable place on February 14, churning out "special" menus for countless two-tops all night long).
So I'll defer to the rest of the Internet and food magazines for oysters, truffles, Champagne, and all the other usual suspects. Here's my offering instead. It's a complete coincidence that these beans (beans are good for your heart) are red, that it calls for chocolate, that it's one of my husband's favorite meals, and that it serves two. Complete coincidence.
- 1 dried chipotle chile
- 1 1/2 cups very hot water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
- 1/2 pound ground lamb
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 cup cooked red kidney beans (or 1 fifteen-ounce can)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 fifteen-ounce can)
- 1 can (28-ounce) whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 scallions, white and green parts sliced
- Grated cheese of choice
- Sour cream
Rinse the dried chipotle under running water. Let the chile soak in the hot water while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook to brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Stir in the jalapeno and the garlic. Deglaze the bottom of the pan with a few tablespoons of the chipotle soaking water.
Add the cumin, coriander, beans, tomatoes, chocolate, vinegar, and one sprig of the oregano. Add the chipotle and the remainder of the soaking water. Stir to combine the ingredients thoroughly. Bring the liquid to a bare simmer and cover the pot. Simmer gently for at least 1 hour or up to 2, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching the bottom of the pot.
Roughly chop the oregano leaves from the remaining sprig. Stir in the chopped oregano, cilantro, and scallions just before serving the chili. Top each bowl of chili with cheese and sour cream.