Chili by the Cauldron

Featured Article, Halloween, Holidays
on September 27, 2011
Black Bean and Beef Chili
Mark Boughton/styling: Teresa Blackburn

Whether this year’s brood includes a mermaid, a monster or The Monopoly Man (my little guy), one thing’s for certain: Everyone needs to eat. And a wicked good dinner will make you a hero—Superman, maybe?

Fire-roasted tomatoes add depth and smoke to a steaming cauldron of chili. Make it ahead and refrigerate for up to three days, or freeze for up to a month, then warm it gently and serve it up (in a hollowed-out pumpkin, if the spirit moves you) with an array of toppings.

Break out your cast-iron skillet for a luscious sour cream cornbread to serve alongside. It, too, can be made ahead and frozen, then thawed and warmed in the oven—you can even slide it back into the skillet for serving. And marinated black olives work their black magic overnight, making speedy work of a salad with fresh oranges, its jolt of bright flavor as welcome as its pitch perfect color.

Dessert on Halloween should be a felony, but since it isn’t, go for a make-ahead caramel sauce that turns ice cream into what just might be the treat of the day. Top each serving with a shower of salted peanuts, or grab a fistful of the Butterfingers you have waiting by the front door, let the kids smash them with their light sabers, and sprinkle those over the top. Happy Halloween.

—By Laraine Perri