Laila Ali Helps Us Stay Warm With a Protein-Packed Chili

Laila Ali
Laila Ali attends Ebony Magazine's Ebony's Power 100 gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 1, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

A couple of ingredients in boxing champ Laila Ali’s chili recipe provide a one-two punch. The addition of coffee and cocoa are unexpected, concedes the 40-year-old author of the new healthy cooking tome Food for Life, but they “add a depth” that makes the dish “stand out.”

For full flavor, commit to cooking at least 90 minutes, then top with sour cream, avocado, scallions or cheese.

Laila’s Cremini Mushroom, Black Bean and Corn Chili
Serves 8

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground chipotle chile
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes with juices
2 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups quality store-bought veggie broth
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Laila Ali chili
Laila Ali’s protein-packed chili. Photography by Matt Armendariz

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until aromatic. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes, lifting the lid to stir a couple of times. Then cook until the liquid released by the mushrooms has been absorbed, about 5 minutes more.
4. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder and chipotle and cook, stirring often, until aromatic, adding a tiny bit of water if the mixture starts to stick.
5. Add the vinegar and stir to release any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the coffee and cook until it has been almost completely absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add the cocoa powder, beans, whole tomatoes (crushing them in with your hands) and their juices, the salt and broth.
6. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, until the chili is a bit thickened but still a little soupy.
7. Add the corn and cook until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro. If you’ve got a half hour to spare, let the chili sit to further develop the flavors and thicken. Taste and add more salt and/or an additional splash of vinegar and serve with your choice of garnishes.

Laila Ali Food for Life
Laila Ali’s book ‘Food for Life.’

From Food for Life by Laila Ali. Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of St Martin’s Press.

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