Our photographer, Dawn Heumann, and I had the pleasure of visiting Daniel Kedan, Chef and Co-Owner of the Backyard restaurant in Forestville recently. While the rain came down outside, Daniel worked his culinary magic in the kitchen, sharing one of his cooking secrets with us while preparing a large pot of incredible Wild Mushroom Chili (you won’t believe it’s Vegan!). As Daniel talked about how the hard frost and abundant rainfall of our Northern California winter has affected his seasonal/local menu he was quick to champion the wild mushroom and the local heirloom bean, specifically the lovely locally grown Rio Zappe bean featured in this recipe. If you are not a farmer growing your own beans, these are the farmers he loves that are growing them for you: Tierra Vegetables, Foggy River Farm, Green String Farm, and the Giving Gardens Project. So gather your beans, your Black Trumpets and/or Chanterelles, pour yourself a glass a crisp cider or a pale ale, and get cookin’!
1 lb. Rio Zappe Beans (substitute with Pinto Beans if you cannot find these)
2 – 16oz cans of Whole Organic Tomatoes, hand crushed
1 lb. Black Trumpet Mushrooms Cleaned
1 lb. Chanterelle Mushrooms Cleaned
2 Organic Yellow Onions Diced or Sliced
2 Tbs Organic Garlic Chopped
2 Tbs Cumin
3 Tbs Chili powder
1 Tbs Paprika
1 Tbs Esplette
2 Tbs Evaporated Cane Juice (Sugar)
2 Tbs Cocoa Powder
¼ C Sherry Vinegar
1/2 Gal Water
Soak the beans overnight. You can cook the beans separately, and add them to the finished chili base or you can cook the beans in the chili, both work very well. In a pot, sear the mushrooms in ¼ cup of oil, on medium high for about 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Then add the onions and garlic, and sweat them for about 2 minutes until their water has cooked out, season with salt and pepper. Add all of the spices and cook them stirring to coat all of the vegetables. After about 2 minutes the spices should be very fragrant, and all of the vegetables should be coated well. Now add the tomatoes. You will cook them for about 5-7 minutes until the raw tomato flavor is gone, season with salt and pepper. Add the cane juice (sugar). Now add the beans and water. Turn the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once it has reached the simmer, turn heat down to med/low. Simmer for 1-2hours until the beans are completely tender. You may need to add a little water in the process. When the beans are cooked, add the vinegar, and final seasons. Serve with cilantro, crème fraiche, and cheese (Daniel uses Jorge Matos St. George cheese). Thank you, Daniel!!