Chili is a funny thing. Everybody’s got a recipe and no two are alike. Some focus on the chilies. Some on the meat. Some have beans. Some don’t. Some are closer to Mex. Some are definitely Tex. Some taste like spaghetti sauce with a bit of grocery store pre-fab mystery chili powder thrown in. Some I get. Some I don’t. This black bean chili is one I get. I hope you get it too.
This recipe is heavy on the chili. It’s not overly hot but the flavours are really big. There’s lots of chili flavour here. Lots. New Mexican red and chipotle are the dominant flavours. Ancho, tomato, cumin and jalapeño are the supporting flavours. It’s definitely on the side of Mex.
It’s about layering great ingredients for depth. Pure chili powders, beef and pork, fire roasted tomatoes, and rendered fat. Don’t be scared of the rendered fat. It replaces the oil you would otherwise use. But it’s tastier. Every bit counts when you’re making chili.
The key technique in this black bean chili is lifted from Indian cooking. Almost every curry starts with a masala. Onion, garlic, oil and spices are fried together. The spices bloom. The flavours meld. Magic happens. It’s exactly the same here. The spices are different but the chemistry is the same.
- 1 lb dried black beans or 3 15 oz cans of black beans
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large jalapeños, finely diced - about ¼ cup (optional)
- 1 28 oz plus 1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)
- 1-2 Tbsp chipotle puree or minced chipotle in adobo
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- chicken stock as needed to keep the chili from drying out
- 4 Tbsp mild New Mexican Red or other mild good quality chili powder
- 1 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- Cook the black beans if using dried. Drain and rinse the black beans if using canned.
- Heat the oil in a dutch oven and brown the beef and pork. When browned remove meat to a stainer or colander and drain and reserve the fat.
- Add 3 Tbsp of the reserved fat into the dutch oven. Sweat the onions and jalapeños if using over low heat until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Add the dry spice mix and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Don't let it burn. If you cook Indian you'll recognize this as cooking the masala.
- Return the meat mixture to the dutch oven. Add the tomatoes and stir. Simmer, loosely covered, over low heat for about 45 minutes.
- Add the beans and cook, loosely covered, for another 60-90 minutes. Add a bit of stock from time to time to keep the chili from drying out.
- Add salt. The amount will depend on whether you are cooking them from dry (more salt) or canned (less salt). With dry beans it takes a surprising amount of salt so add a tsp at a time until you get to where you like it.
- Serve garnished with any of pico de gallo, sliced green onions, avacado slices, fried tortilla strips or sour cream. Whatever you feel like really.