This is the season of the dried bean. Soups, stews, chilis and chowders, and even a few salads and sides have benefitted from the addition of these nutritious legumes. That’s how this seafood chili originated. I had cooked the last of Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman beans that we brought back from the famed San Francisco Farmers Market, and I thought that their color, size and flavor would complement a seafood chili. I rescued organic yellow and red peppers from the local market’s markdown bin and used up the odd amounts of stocks and broths – including the bean broth of course – as the liquid. The chili base can be made ahead, which improves its flavor. The seafood goes in at the last minute.
One or two ¼-inch thick slices salt pork or bacon, but into ¼-inch dice (1/3 c)
Splash of water
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red Bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow Bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp whole cumin seed
1 tbsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 pint homemade tomato sauce (or 1 large can peeled whole Italian tomatoes, buzzed in blender)
1-2 c combination of chicken stock, fish stock, bean broth and water
1 c cooked red or yellow beans (I used Rancho Gordo Indian Yellow Woman Beans)
½ lb bay scallops or sea scallops, quartered
½ lb whole fresh medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and roughly chopped
Salt and red pepper
Slowly render the salt pork or bacon in a little water and cook until crisp. Spoon off all but one tablespoonful of fat. (You can remove the brown bits and add them later or keep them in the pot.) Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and peppers and cook until the peppers start to soften. Add the spices and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and chosen liquid and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add the beans and cook for 15 minutes. The chili can be made ahead to this point, which improves its flavor. When ready to serve, bring the chili to a simmer and add the seafood, cooking for only for a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with cilantro.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place corn tortillas on a baking pan, Brush lightly with olive oil or other vegetable oil, and sprinkle with salt. Cook until lightly browned on one side, 3-4 minutes, and flip, cooking just for another minute until crisp but not overly brown.