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The Life of a Plated Recipe: White Bean Chili

Do you often wonder how a Plated recipe gets from our test kitchen all the way to your home? It’s an incredibly creative and sometimes quite long process. It involves everything from culinary inspiration and focused writing and editing, to cooking, tasting (and tasting again), and sometimes totally scrapping the original idea in favor of something way more delicious.

Our recipes are most often inspired by the Culinary team’s monthly field trips, which span every cuisine and concept here in NYC. But sometimes, as is the case for next week’s White Bean Chili, we wanted to revamp our own personal favorites that we’re dying to share. Take a look at how this steamy bowl of comfort made its way into your box:

THE STARTING LINEUP

It began with a secret recipe. A few years ago, after much pleading, a fellow Plated coworker let us in on her family’s Southwestern turkey chili, studded with white beans and a little poblano chile pepper. They’d bust it out every year for the Super Bowl, complete with melty shredded Cheddar and corn tortilla chips for dipping. The secret to its totally creamy texture? A splash of milk.

Drawing inspiration for this year’s Super Bowl menu, Chef Michelle set out to riff on that fantastic chili—but challenged herself to make it vegetarian, and even more delicious. Michelle held onto the creamy white beans (after all, what’s chili without the beans?) and poblano pepper, then started her recipe revamp with roasted butternut squash and grape tomatoes in place of the turkey. She also thought she might achieve that a similar creaminess to milk, so that anyone could customize their bowl with however much cheese or avocado they wanted on top.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

The first version of the new recipe entered the test kitchen for an initial round of cooking and tasting. While the tender butternut squash tasted great with the original cumin, oregano, and chili powder spice mix, it clashed with the flavor of the beans. Our chefs thought about other vegetables that might pair better, and decided to rewrite the recipe to include roasted broccoli. In the second round of testing, the broccoli got nice and browned in the oven, but its al dente texture didn’t hold up well once submerged in a pot of hot chili.

What we really needed were hearty and flavorful vegetables, yet with soft enough textures and complementary flavors that wouldn’t compete.

A SPECIAL TEAM

Michelle and our team of fellow chefs found a winner in the humble sweet potato: A soft-starchy texture that holds up well in chili and tastes great in every bite, no matter if scooped up with a few beans, softened leek, or poblano (which gets roasted alongside the potato for extra smokiness). We swapped out Cheddar cheese in favor of crumbly queso fresco, which, along with a squeeze of lime and some thinly sliced avocado, brings the Southwestern flavors full-circle and allows anyone to adjust their own toppings. Even the homemade tortilla chips are customizable: They can be fried in wedges for classic scooping, or cut into smaller pieces to be sprinkled over the final bowl as a crispy garnish.

We’re proud to say that Michelle succeeded in her goal. This chili is just as comforting and flavorful as the original, with some vegetarian spins to keep things meat-free, but still feel seasonal. Add any size—two, three, or a perfectly shareable four servings—to your Super Bowl week menu now, and prepare to taste victory. (OK, we promise, no more unbearable sports-related puns).

Looking for more information on menu evolutions? In case you missed it, here is a peek behind our insanely popular Thanksgiving cheeseburger.

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