this is southern comfort
*For awhile, I thought I was going through a serious "soul food" and "southern cooking" phase. My roommate gently reminded me that I am generally not a fan of hush puppies, grits, fried chicken, and gravy. At first, I insisted that despite not loving any of the foods on that list, I was still smitten with southern cooking. Slowly, I began to realize that it was not so much a love affair with southern cooking as it was a desperate craving for chili and cornbread—two foods that i do love and that I happen to associate with the south.
*Since this chili cook-off and this meal at the co-op, I have been dreaming about making chili and cornbread, mulling over the various kinds of cornbread (sweet vs. savory; cakey vs. coarse; northern vs. southern) and chilis I could make. Of course, coming home for spring break and finally having a kitchen to work in meant that I was going to put all this dreaming to rest and satisfy my craving.
*This sunday night dinner was the result. I knew I wanted a very hearty and simple southern cornbread (100% cornmeal)—not the sweet, cakey kind that is served in New England. The skillet cornbread i made ended up being a great chili-topper, but I'm not satisfied with the recipe, which means cornbread round 2 will be coming up soon. I think I will add some flour next time to make it either 50% or 75% cornmeal, instead of 100% cornmeal, and just a tablespoon more of honey.
*The chili was just right though. I rarely ever work from recipes, and this chili was no exception. I knew I wanted a smoky and spicy chipotle chili—a vegetarian chili with mainly beans and a very deep flavor. So this chili ended up being a mix of onions, bay leaves, red peppers, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, cumin, chipotle chili powder, cocoa powder, garam masala spice, molasses, pinto beans, kidney beans, and black beans. It was good, really good. Next time I make chili I may add some peanut or almond butter to add another dimension to the flavor profile, but overall I was very satisfied with this.