Saturday, April 14, 2007

Black Is the New Chili

A few months ago, when I first bought these gorgeous, shiny, dried black beans from Full Belly Farm, I thought it would be fun to dream up a completely black dish.
No, this doesn't come from depression. Just nutty creativity.
So: Black beans... What else?
Chinese black vinegar? Yeah, sure. Black pepper? No problem. Black ale? I've heard it can be procured.
Oh. And the final black protein to make it all worthwhile: Boudin noir, aka blood sausage.
I've never dared to eat blood sausage before, but now that I'm an old hand with cocks' combs, etc., I didn't think I should chicken (heh) out.
Anyway, the entire combination seemed to be adding up to a black chili. So I added some ground dried pasilla chiles, which were so old in my pantry, they were definitely black.
This was a feel-your-way-through recipe. I had no idea where I was going.
I thought some Scharffen Berger cacao nibs might go nicely, and they do have a dark taste (well, "almost" black). So I tossed in a spoonful. But chocolate needed cinnamon, so I shook in a sprinkle of that. Of course there was salt.
The boudins noirs, from Fabrique Délices, were nicely seasoned with baking spices, so I sort of backed off in that area. But it still needed something to offset the bitterness of the Big Bear Black Stout (from Healdsburg). Kong Yen Chinese black vinegar to the rescue.
I must add: Beans love cooking in fat. The blood sausages were terribly lean. But we had a bit of leftover Black Sheep bacon fat (Website? mm; sorry) in the fridge, and even if the fat wasn't black, the sheep was. Go figure.
There was also the expected minced red onion... I've learned there's such a thing as black garlic, but I'm not resourceful enough to procure some.
We finished this stew by stirring in some cooked Trader Joe's black japonica rice. Everything's still a little chewy right now, but here's a preview.
Looking forward to our black meal.


Passionate Eater said...

I hope you used a blackened pot to make this recipe! ;) From your descriptions, this meal sounds like it would taste fabulous. I am "black" with envy at this innovative idea!

sfmike said...

Too scary and delicious looking.

Dagny said...

I'm still not sure about the cocks' combs but blood sausage is always tasty. I love that you have created a dish in one of my fave colors for my wardrobe. Can you do an all blue dish next? Oooo. And another thought -- telling guests that their attire should match the color of the food. If you haven't guessed yet, I have spent way too much time today talking to the cats. Time to make phone calls.

And now a much saner comment. I think chili is perfect given today's weather.

Katie said...

I had a friend once who wouldn't eat anything green - no lime jello. no green beans, no salad, no fun!
I like this idea - Shouldn't you have done it on a 'dark and stormy night' when it's 'black as pitch'?
I wonder how all red would be - steak tartare...
Your chili looks good and I bet the black pudding added great flavor!

Kevin said...

You're weird.

Sam said...

I made a pink feast once, but now I really wish I'd made black instead.
I think my nephew Dillon would be into the idea of only black food. He is going through his Tim Burton Phase. I sent him a Skeleton DJ for his birthday and I think he liked it.

Monkey Wrangler said...

If black named stuff goes in, next time throw a few black spanish radishes and hold on for the burn.

Or to go with the mood of darkness, eat it with the lights off, cuz' if there is any of that black ale left after this dish, you won't be needing them on.

Sorry I left the fishnets in my man-purse on Friday.....but I did catch the pink socks, they were hella fuzzy.

Stacie said...

you're a freak... Now pass me some of Healdsburg's finest!

cookiecrumb said...

PE: You are too clever. (She said blackly.)

SFMike: I know. Halloween food. Tasty too.

Dagny: Hah. I totally think it's time for a food-theme party. (Yes, the chili was inspired by drizzly weather.)
I really can't imagine what I'd do for blue food. Purple, I could pull off.

Katie: Not even green Jell-O. Huh. I used to be totally hooked on white food. I'll have to talk about it sometime.

Kevin: I know.

Sam: Pink. Not salt lumps?! Black, though: I've spent the morning working up a menu. There's caviar in it. Wanna come?
Oh, one more comment for you (and Dillon): in John Lanchester's "The Debt to Pleasure," the insane narrator creates a black feast of boudin noir on a bed of fried black radicchio, with drinks of Black Velvet.

Monkey Wrangler: Great idea. And you know what else? I've learned that there is "black salt," but it's not NaCl. It's used in Indian cooking, and is apparently sulphurous.

Stacie: You couldn't swallow enough of that stuff to get a good buzz. It's thick and bitter.

Cyndi said...

Such creativity! I had some black rice once at a luncheon - not japonica but the "forbidden" black rice that looks like black pearls. I was surprised that I liked it. My husband likes blood sausage-blutwurst-it's one of his favorite German meats. That and pressack, or head cheese. Oh, and we had a friend just like Katie's, who wouldn't eat anything green, either. Must be more common than we thought.

Willa said...

Impressive! Next time you could add a salad with Tuscan Black Kale and black sesame seeds, or those little black seeds, what are they, Nigella?

By the way, I frequently find black food in the far back of my refrigerator...

Anita said...

Gawd, this is a gorgeous thing. And sounds tasty, too. :)

ChrisB said...

Sounds interesting but I think I could give this one a miss!! I can't believe Sam changing her allegiance from pink!!

Johane said...

Looks interesting... I try most anything, but I have a block at blood sausage. I hope it was delicious though (other than the sausage it sounded great...)

lucette said...

You needed a splash of blackstrap molasses: blackly named and blackly colored.

shelly said...

Mm... sounds good. I've got some black salt, Hawaiian I think. I haven't seen black garlic anywhere except Berkeley Bowl.

Alice Q said...

It certainly looks interesting - how was it?

cookiecrumb said...

Cyndi: I must find some of that rice. (And thanks for the backup evidence on green avoiders!)

Willa: Yep, nigella. I completely forgot about all the black seeds I could have used.

Anita: Don't you love that slight rootbeer-tinged gravy at the edge? Come to think of it, it had a slight rootbeer-tinged flavor.

ChrisB: What color are your lentils? You could go with a lentil-colored theme.

Johane: I'm completely with you. I only dared to try it because I needed something black, and I find I'm a little bit braver these days. It's not at all creepy, by the way.

Lucette: D'oh! That would have been delicious. One more black item in my pantry I forgot about.

Shelly: I had the pleasure of sampling black salt (sprinkled over ice cream, none the less!) at Anita's house the other night. It is deeply black and beautiful. Sigh. More crap for the larder.

AliceQ: Oh, I should have said what it tasted like. Well, for two servings we used a whole dried pasilla, but it was not noticeably spicy. The predominant flavor came from the blood sausage, and that was a delicate, bakery sort of taste. The black beans alone had molto flavor, vivid farmy flavor. The rice was just background. And then a little smack of onion. So, not really "chili," more of a bean stew.

Sue said...

Found your blog by accident. Love the black chili idea. I make my chili with black beans, dark cocoa and -- Black coffee! Gives the bowl a nice punch and helps counteract the somnolence of the brewskies ingested alongside.
Also have a black beef marinade made with Wortchestershire sauce, expresso and Jack Daniels -- black label of course.
Nice to find folks as mad about food as I am.

cookiecrumb said...

Thank you, Sue. Just the other day I was tasting some grilled, sliced flank steak from a good take-out place, and it gave me the idea for a cocoa, coffee, chili spice rub for meat. Looks like I'm not the first to think along these lines. Heh. Food is fun. Maddening.

Anonymous said...

OMG, totally off topic, I know. BUT, you can get Kong Yen vinegar here?! Best, best, best vinegar for dumplings. Oh dear, now I have to go order a crate of the stuff.

cookiecrumb said...

Anonymous: Yes, Kong Yen from Taiwan. Now, the vexing question is: Where did I buy it? Maybe in Oakland's Chinatown. Yeah, I think so.
Dumplings... (Homer Simpson voice)... !!