Sweet Red Bean Chili

Rich and filling. Best with dark beans and dark chocolate. I’ve tried four or five different varieties of bean from Rancho Gordo, and the tiny, dark red sangre de toro are hands down the best bean for this recipe.

Beans

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound dried beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water
Optional: 1/2 cup finely chopped celery or carrots
Optional: 1 medium clove garlic

In a very large pot, bring beans, soaking water, onion, and optional ingredients to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 3 hours.

Meat

1 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 whole ancho chili
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons ground paprika
4 pounds ground beef
28 oz crushed tomatoes
8-10 oz dark chocolate chips

In an electric grinder, combine cumin seeds, garlic, and chili until finely ground. Gently fry all spices in olive oil for 1 minute. Do not burn. Add beef. Stir about 10 minutes, breaking up the chunks of beef, until the meat is browned all over and in pieces no larger than quarters.

Add tomatoes and cook 10 minutes.

Chili

Combine meat and beans well.

Add chocolate chips and simmer until melted.

Simmer at low heat, partially covered, for around 45 minutes.

***

Old & Confusing Version…

Okay, not jam, and not even dessert. But this was such a hit I have to write it down somewhere before I forget what I did. It doesn’t have to be a three-day process — it doesn’t even have to be stretched out over two days, and obviously the two stages of meat can be combined — I added the additional meat because the first version was too spicy for my kids. Regardless, cooking unsoaked beans takes time, and cooking ground beef so it breaks down and is tender also takes time. Plan accordingly…

Day 1

Prepare 1 pound Rancho Gordo sangre de toro beans: Saute in olive oil 1 medium onion, finely chopped, add beans, stir. In a spice or coffee grinder process 1 whole ancho chile, about 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, and about 1 teaspoon dried epazote. Add ground spices and about 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon to onions and fry lightly, being careful not to burn the spices. Add beans and water to generously cover the beans, bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer around 3 hours, or until beans are very soft. Check every now and then to be sure there is sufficient water to cook the beans. Put the cooled beans, including the thickened bean water, in the refrigerator.

Day 2

To about 2 tablespoons olive oil on a medium-high stove add 2 pounds lean ground beef. Stir about 10 minutes, breaking up the chunks of beef, until the meat is browned all over and in pieces no larger than quarters. Stir in the cooked beans, a 14 oz jar crushed tomatoes, and around 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips. Simmer at low heat, partially covered, for around 45 minutes.

Stir in around 1 tablespoon peanut butter and around 4 oz chocolate chips. Mix well and cook together over medium heat for another 2 minutes. Put the cooled chili in the refrigerator.

Day 3

To about 2 tablespoons olive oil on a medium-high stove add 2 pounds lean ground beef. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons ground paprika and about 2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin. Stir constantly over medium heat, breaking up the chunks of beef and pressing the spices and onions into the beef, about 3 minutes. Add 2 crushed cloves garlic and stir another 3 minutes, until the meat is browned all over and in pieces no larger than quarters. Add a 14 oz jar of plain prepared pasta sauce (e.g. marinara).

Simmer, partially covered, over a low heat for around 30 minutes.

Add the cooled chili from Day 2. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve with skillet-baked corn bread, grated cheese, and sour cream.

This chili freezes well. Two pounds of chili will serve two adults and two children.

*Note, for the skillet bread, I substituted 1 cup warm milk clabbered with 1 tablespoon rice vinegar for 15 minutes for the buttermilk.

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One thought on “Sweet Red Bean Chili

  1. Perfect for the cold days! It must have such an interesting flavor with the peanut butter and chocolate. Does it taste a bit like Mole sauce?

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