El Diablo Black Bean Casserole - do you dare?

I have a deep, twisted love for horror movies. Deep, because almost in the same way an addict can’t quit their vice, I find myself gravitating toward that genre again and again; twisted, because I am by far one of the biggest 21-year-old babies you will ever meet. I cried after watching Red Dragon, had nightmares for months after the first three times I watched Pet Semetary (that one gets me every time, yet I keep coming back – see? Twisted!), and flat out will not watch anything with even the slightest hint of horror unless I have a buddy (and a pillow!) to watch with me. Oh, and the lights are always on while watching. Always.

I react much the same way to spicy food. I cannot get enough of it, yet I don’t exactly have this highest tolerance for heat. The moment I bit into my first buffalo wing, I think I heard angels singing, though I quickly discovered that the devil was the one conducting them. One time, I even had to ice my lips for half an hour after eating a particularly brutal batch, but I loved them all the same. I recently added a whole jalapeno to one veggie burrito because, why not? It couldn’t possibly be that hot, right? Luckily, I had a fresh batch of soft, doughy sugar cookies on the counter to cool me down afterwards, because I could not have been more wrong! So once again, you can see the deep-yet-twisted love theme. It’s such an intense discomfort to feel as though a fire has ignited inside of your mouth, throat, ears, etc., yet I’ll be darned if that ever deters me. Now, I don’t go so far as taking on challenges such as biting into a raw habanero or anything that extreme, but incorporate the flavor into my food and you’re on, which brings me to one of my latest dinners.

This black bean casserole is not for the faint at heart. L and I were breathing fire by the end of that meal. It isn’t entirely the casserole’s fault – you see, it was originally an enchilada, and I removed the tortillas, which may have been there intentionally to soften the blow of the chili powder and jalapenos. Regardless, though, we each had ourselves a hefty glass of milk following this one and yet, here I am, telling you about it – as in, telling you that I actually think you should make this, not that you should be deterred. If you’re crazy like me, keep it just as it is, because it certainly is delicious and even for those saner than I am, I don’t think the spice needs to be downplayed much. If anything, consider seeding some or all of the jalapenos or just use less sauce in the actual dish.  

El Diablo Black Bean Casserole, adapted from Cooking This and That
Yield: 2 servings

The Ingredients
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
black pepper and salt, to taste
¾ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
pinch ground cayenne pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup brown rice, cooked
7 ½ ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup jalepeno peppers, finely chopped
¾ cup shredded reduced fat Mexican blend cheese, divided
¼ cup low fat sour cream

The Method
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour for 3-4 minutes to create a light brown roux. Add the black pepper, salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, and red pepper flakes, cooking for 1 more minute while continuing to stir constantly to keep the ingredients blended together. Mix in the chicken broth, stirring until thickened. Turn the heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for approximately 15 minutes, adjusting the thickness with water as necessary/desired.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spread ¼ - ½ cup of the sauce you’ve just prepared over the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Meanwhile, mix the cooked rice, beans, jalapenos, ½ cup cheese and sour cream in a medium bowl and spoon into the baking dish over the sauce. Sprinkle the top with another ¼ cup of cheese, cover the dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes, removing the foil for the last 5 minutes. Optionally, serve with extra sour cream and salsa; recommended: a tall glass of milk!


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