October Bean Chili


  • 2 each costena, pasillo, guajillo, and chipotle chiles, dried
  • 4 - 5 slices bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Poblano chile, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 pounds of fresh October beans (or pinto)
  • enough vegetable broth to cover beans plus 2 - 3 inches
  • 1 heaping teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • several sprigs of fresh oregano
  • a few shakes of liquid Maggi (it's pure umami)
  • 1-2 tablespoons masa
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a glug (a shot or two) of rye whiskey


  1. Place the dried chiles in a hot cast iron skillet and cook until just fragrant. Cover with water and cover until soft, about 30 minutes. When soft, remove seeds and stems and puree in an immersion blender. If necessary, add a bit of the liquid they've been soaking in. Set aside. 
  2. Place the bacon strips in a large stockpot and heat over medium low, until the fat has rendered and the bacon has crisped. Remove the bacon and place on paper towels to drain. Increase the heat to medium and saute the onions and Poblano until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and stir for an additional minute. Add the next 8 ingredients plus the pureed chiles, stir, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until beans are tender, at least 2 hours - really, as long as you make sure to keep enough liquid in the pot the longer you simmer this the more flavorful it's going to be. At this stage add a generous amount of salt, making sure to taste as you go. Remove the oregano sprigs and blend with an immersion blender for a few seconds to help thicken the chili and give it a chunky texture. Sprinkle in the masa and stir. Simmer for 10 more minutes and add the rye whiskey at the end of the cooking. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired.


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