I think most of us really just prefer to pull out that single pot or pan when it comes to preparing dinner, don’t we? And for some reason, those “melting-pot” style meals always just seem to taste the best, and make the biggest impression on those we’re feeding. Really, who doesn’t love a hot, comforting meal that’s packed with rich flavor and lots of delicious texture, especially when it’s a snap to prepare and to get on the table? All we want is something delectable to stick our forks in or plunge our spoons into at the end of the day, something healthy and wonderfully belly-warming to indulge our senses in. And if just a little of our skill and a little of our time is all that it requires, then that just adds to how good the entire experience of that meal ends up being, with clean plates (or bowls) to prove it.
I love to prepare a simple yet hearty meal during the week that is familiar yet has a little twist to it. Cheesy Sweet Potato “Skillet Chili” is a rich, cheesy and delicious one-pan meal with the addition of vibrant and healthy sweet potatoes, plus lean ground beef, tomatoes, protein and fiber-packed red beans and savory aromatic veggies all sauteed together until golden and caramelized — the perfect fall dinner pick, and delicious when paired with some warm, cozy corn bread to crumble over top, or even some crispy corn chips on the side for dunking and crunching. Kids love the familiar flavors, and parents love the idea of “gourmet simple” — my personal favorite when it comes to weeknight meal prep. The warm spices waft through the kitchen, and the soft sound of a bubbling pan beckons and gets the folks in their seats before you even have a chance to ring that ol’ dinner bell, and who doesn’t love that?
Cheesy Sweet Potato “Skillet Chili” is a perfect fall (or anytime) twist on a classic favorite. Hearty, meaty, rich and flavorful, you’ll have this scrumptious one-pan wonder on your table in a flash, with all of your loved ones lifting their bowls and spoons in unison for a hearty helping. And with a generous sprinkling of some gooey, sharp cheddar cheese to top things off, you may even be getting requests for seconds; but perhaps those should be left for the cook who’s been “slaving away” (wink wink) in the kitchen preparing this wonderful meal. Heck, do they really need to know just how easy it was?
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Cheesy Sweet Potato “Skillet Chili” with Lean Ground Beef, Red Bell Peppers, Tomatoes and Red Beans, with Sharp Cheddar and Green Onions
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(Serves about 4)
• Olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
• Black pepper
1 teaspoon dry oregano
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 red onion, diced
2 small red bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1tablespoon tomato paste
1 extra-large sweet potato (or 2 small), peeled and diced into medium-small cubes
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained of juice
1 cup beef (or chicken) stock, warm
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
4 green onions, chopped, divided use
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided use
• Sour cream, as optional garnish
-Place a large, non-stick heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of the oil; once hot, crumble in the ground beef, breaking it up slightly with a spoon, and brown it for about 2-3 minutes; next, add in a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper, the oregano, cumin, chili powder and paprika, and stir to combine.
-Next, add in the diced onion and red bell peppers, and saute those together with the ground beef for about 3-4 minutes; add in the garlic and stir to incorporate, and once that becomes aromatic, add in the tomato paste and stir, and cook the mixture for a minute or two.
-Next, add in the diced sweet potato and the diced tomatoes, plus the chicken stock, and stir to combine; then, add in the kidney beans and gently fold those in; cover the pan and gently simmer the chili on low for about 20-22 minutes, or until the sweet potato cubes are tender, stirring occasionally; turn off the heat.
-To finish the chili, fold in the chopped cilantro, about half of the chopped green onions, and about half of the cheddar cheese; serve the chili in bowls topped with a sprinkle of the remaining cheddar cheese, and sour cream, if desired.
(This is delicious with a side of cornbread or corn chips, as well.)