Recipe: Chili with two beans

Recipe: Chili with two beans

On Monday, I modified a vegetarian chili recipe from a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and developed this variation that met with the Spousal Seal of Approval.

It is no longer vegetarian, as said spouse believes that by definition, chili must contain meat. He also believes that beans in chili are a travesty, but in this case he deemed the flavor so good that even the presence of beans was relatively acceptable.

I omitted the bulgur plus an ingredient that I couldn’t locate (dried shiitake mushrooms), added ground beef, and substituted canned beans for the dried ones the original recipe calls for, as I began the chili at 3:30 p.m. and it needed to be ready by dinner that evening.

As written, it’s got a good amount of spice to it (I’d rate it “medium”), but if you like things milder (like Jamieson does), you can decrease or omit the jalapeño pepper and the chipotle chili powder.

There are a lot of mise-en-place steps to this recipe, including toasting and grinding walnuts and toasting and grinding your own chiles into powder; I highly recommend it if you have the time, because the flavor is so delicious. Also, the recipe yields quite a bit of chili so unless you have a large and hungry family, or are having a dinner party, you will probably have leftovers, which freeze well. You could even make a double batch while you’re at it, although if you do this please note that you will need a REALLY big pot.

Also, I did not take the above photo (don’t worry, it’s public-domain, I did not steal it), but every photo I took of my pot of chili looked like… well, unappetizing (but delicious!) brown glop.

Chili with Two Beans

4 dried guajillo or ancho chiles
1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and coarsely chopped (1 to 2)
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 pounds onions, finely chopped
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
5 cups water
  1. CHILI POWDER: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300°F. Arrange chiles on rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and puffed, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool, about 5 minutes. Stem and seed chiles, and break into small pieces. Working in batches, grind toasted chiles, MSG, and oregano in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle until finely ground. Add cumin and stir to combine.
  2. WALNUTS: Process walnuts in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl.
  3. TOMATO SAUCE: Process drained tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeños, garlic, and tamari soy sauce in food processor until tomatoes are finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
  4. MEAT: Brown meat in 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven or 4-quart pot until well-browned; remove meat from pot and set in a strainer to drain. Don’t clean out pot.
  5. ONIONS: Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in now-empty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add ground chile mixture and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add drained and rinsed beans and water; bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Stir in ground walnuts, tomato mixture, and reserved tomato juice. Return to a simmer and cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until chili thickens a little. Serve hot.

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