January 11, 2013
About a week ago, my husband made black bean chili and sweet potato casserole* in the slow cooker. It was his first time using the slow cooker, and he followed a recipe from Robin Robertson's book, Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker. It was spicy and tasty, but I've found that Robertson's serving sizes are very generous, and even though I love having leftovers, after a certain amount of chili chomping, I just couldn't face another bowl. We were going to freeze the leftover leftovers, but never got to it, when thankfully I remembered a favorite recipe from the olden days. I can't remember what cookbook it was from though I have a vague memory of the author and cover, but maybe it will come to me as I type.
The dish was made with leftover chili — we certainly had no shortage of that — and was topped with a recipe for cornbread. Cornbread. Last year, as you may or may not recall, I went gluten-free to deal with some digestive issues that had been plaguing me for as long as I can remember. (As you might assume from the first paragraph that my memory isn't all that long, I assure you my memory on this subject is quite intact.) While I am no longer 100% gluten-free, my cooking and baking still are, and I eat only small amounts of gluten elsewhere. Cooking GF didn't require much of a change, but baking — ha! Baking at first seemed impossible, and I ruined a lot of things, but after following recipes and getting a feel for GF flours, I've been able to actually bake a few successful items just playing in the kitchen. I didn't use a specific recipe** for my first attempt at GF cornbread, but it was a success, and it turned the chili into a whole new dish that we enthusiastically enjoyed eating. Even the new leftovers were appreciated. (Yes, I mean it.)
You can use any kind of cornbread — GF or regular — to make this. Spread the hot, juicy beans in a casserole dish, and spread a recipe of cornbread batter over the top. The batter should be soft enough to spread easily, so if the batter you're using is stiff, add some extra liquid. Bake in a pre-heated 425˚ F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cornbread tests done.
*The recipe calls for thinly sliced sweet potatoes, which were unappealing to me in the finished chili. Maybe it's because my husband doesn't slice things "thinly." In any case, I prefer the potatoes to be in a small dice, which may not work well in the slow cooker. To remedy the potato issue, I chopped up the potatoes before I placed the chili in the casserole. I did it right in the storage dish without removing the slices and without apparent harm to the beans. If I'd thought of it, I also would have added some frozen corn before placing the chili into the baking dish.
**Cornbread recipes usually have one cup of cornmeal and one cup of flour. For the cup of flour I used millet flour, almond flour and a small amount of tapioca starch. (I find I'm using less and less starch in baking.) I didn't use xanthan gum. There was also sweetener, baking powder and baking soda. The liquid ingredients included almond milk, soy yoghurt, and oil.