Spicy 3-Bean Chili

It’s cold outside…really cold…and you need something that will warm you to your bones. Well, this is definitely the recipe for you! Chili is a great comfort food anyway, but a nice bowl of thick and spicy chili (that happens to be oil-free and gluten-free) on a cold day is as close to a perfect food experience as you can find.

This recipe uses a nice technique of toasting dried chili peppers in a pot, softening in water then blending to create a rather spicy chili water that is used like a broth. Here’s your chance to go out and find some interesting dried chili peppers and experiment with their flavors. This is a very cool thing to do – especially if you are a chili rookie!

I would also recommend doubling the recipe and taking advantage of eating it for nearly a week or freezing the leftovers. If you do this, don’t bother to double the chili peppers and water, unless of course you really like a spicy chili.

Yield: about 8 servings

  • 2 whole sweet dried chilies like new mexico or choricero

  • 2 small hot dried chilies like ancho, negro, chipotle

  • 250 ml (1 cup) water

  • 2 onions, chopped medium

  • 2 carrots, chopped fine

  • 2 red sweet peppers, chopped medium

  • 2-3 gloves garlic, grated

  • 2 tablespoons cumin

  • 2 tablespoons, dried oregano

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon yeast extract

  • 1 tablespoon lite tamari sauce

  • 475 grams (18-ounces) canned chopped tomatoes

  • 350 grams (12-ounces) canned black beans, drained

  • 350 grams (12-ounces) canned kidney beans, drained

  • 175 grams (6-ounces) canned chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons masa harina

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • garnish: chopped fresh coriander, chopped spring onions, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocado and/or a bit of soy yogurt

  • Heat a heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat. Remove the stems from the dried chili peppers, then add the peppers to the pan. Toast about 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the water, cover with plastic wrap and allow to swell for 15 minutes. Transfer the entire contents to a blender and process until smooth. Strain and reserve.
  • Return the empty pot to the stovetop and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and carrots and sweat over medium heat until softened – this will take about 10-minutes. Be sure to add a pinch of salt to the onions and carrots and a small amount of water as necessary to prevent the vegetables from burning.
  • Add the red sweet peppers and continue to cook about 5 minutes until the peppers soften.
  • Add the spices and cook about one minute while stirring constantly.
  • Add the yeast extract and soy sauce to the mixture and cook about 30 seconds.
  • Begin to add some of the reserved chili water at this point. Add a bit at first and see what you think in terms of heat. You can always add more later to increase the spiciness.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and any water in the can. Cook about 2-3 minutes, then add all the beans. Make sure to add the liquid from the chickpeas. Add enough water to barely cover the beans, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and maintain a simmer. Cook the chili for 90 minutes and add some water as necessary if the chili dries out and thickens too much.
  • Whisk in the masa harina slowly while stirring and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste.
  • Garnish the chili and serve warm…perhaps with a slice of some avocado cornbread!

Jack’s Fresh Tip

You can easily adapt this recipe to include more vegetables. Think chopped up sweet potatoes or butternut squash – both are really nice options. If you had these, make sure to add them later in the cooking process…about 1/2-way or with 45-minutes left on your timer (you did set a timer, right?). I also like to add a few drops of liquid smoke to the finished chili…but, only if the mood strikes me and I want a bit of smokiness in my chili (it reminds me of eating chili around the campfire, but that’s an entirely different story).

Here’s how to convert the bean amounts if you are using dried beans and want to cook them yourself. First off, most cans are standard with about 400 grams in weight, meaning there will be 250 grams of beans once they are drained. This recipe calls for 350 grams of bean weight. If you are cooking your own beans, then allow for about 2-time absorption. To get a yield of 350 grams of cooked beans, you will need to soak 175 grams of beans. Cook the beans separately to insure even cooking as most dried beans vary greatly in their age and size (black beans will require far less time to cook than chickpeas).

One final warning and tip… I like the method of toasting dried chili peppers in a pan, then adding some water and blending everything together. This will make a rather spicy water, so I caution you to take care on how much to use. I like to use about half at first, then begin adding more later during the cooking process. You can refrigerate any leftover chili water and use it for something else that may require some fire!

Techniques used

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