If you have experience cooking with hot peppers, you probably added this week’s habaneros to your shopping bag without a second thought. Personally, I have very limited experience cooking with hot peppers, and hesitated before deciding to give it a go. In addition to ensuring access to fresh produce, the Food Share works to decrease food waste, and I wanted to be sure that this pepper would not end up in the compost. Far from it! Read on to learn a little bit about habaneros and the best black bean chili I’ve made in my life.
Habaneros originated in the Amazon Basin, and were domesticated over the course of millennia. Chilis play a large role in culinary traditions the world over, and are a great addition to any food you’d like to give a little heat. The first thing you need to know about cooking with habaneros, is that this process is not the same as cooking with milder peppers. Peppers are made spicy by a chemical called capsaicin. This chemical is responsible for the heat and burn that lovers of hot peppers enjoy. If not handled correctly, the high concentration of capsaicin in habaneros can cause burns. To protect yourself, and anyone else using your cooking space, follow the steps below.
- Wear gloves.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, or skin.
- Clean any surface you touch thoroughly.
- If you do get a chili burn, do not use water to wash it off. Though it is surprising, cold milk or another liquid dairy product is your best option.
- For beginners, less is more. Stick to one habanero in a dish, or even half a habanero. I recommend removing the seeds. This will keep the flavor, but cut down on the heat!
- Wash your hands after removing the gloves.
Interested in giving habaneros a try? This chili recipe was simple, (fairly) quick, and used quite a few of this week’s food share items! It also got rave reviews from my taste buds and room mates. I encourage you to try this recipe the next time you have a hankering for chili. Also consider trying your own experiment with a new recipe, or modifying an old favorite to include habaneros.
- 1tbs oil (olive, vegetable, coconut—whatever you have)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cups water/broth
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 habanero, seeded, deveined, chopped (use gloves)
- 1 bell pepper
- 3 carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 2 tbs ground chili powder
- Optional: ½ tsp paprika (smoked or sweet)
- Optional: 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 dash ground pepper
- 2 cups dried beans or 2 cans beans (any)
- 2 cans tomatoes
- If using dried beans, soak overnight.
- Bring broth/water to a boil. Add beans. Reduce heat to a simmer and add water as needed.
- Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium heat, add oil.
- Add onion, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes, until translucent.
- Add bell pepper, carrots, and celery. Cook until soft.
- Add garlic and habanero. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.
- Add vegetable mixture to the beans.
- Alter seasoning to taste. Continue to simmer the chili until beans are soft and the desired consistency is reached.
- Add condiments such as cheese or sour cream, and serve! No picture of the final dish. You’ll just have to trust us and make it yourself!
What are your favorite recipes that call for habaneros? Share them with us!
By Kassia Rudd
Kassia Rudd is a local gardener committed to furthering community and environmental health through sustainable food systems education and outreach.