I have a confession.
I hate beans. I have since I was young. They're bland and gritty and just...ew. I've tried to like them, really I have. In college, I learned to tolerate them if they were covered in sinful sugar (aka baked and ranch-style), but with the new dietary restrictions, those went right out the window. But beans are good for you, you say? Believe me, I know. I want to eat more of them.
What about in chili? NEVER! Chili is something I love. Something dear that I have always been appreciative of, whether slow cooked until chunks of beef melted into deliciousness or just that satisfying glob of grease that was scooped from a can. Chili dogs, Frito pie or just on its own with lots of cheese, I wasn't too picky. Well, except for one thing. No beans!
So what on Earth drove me to try a black bean chili? Honestly, I'm not sure. But I have been wanting to eat more beans and I wasn't going to if I didn't start somewhere. I found a recipe in The Mayo Clinic Willians-Sonoma Cookbook that looked doable. I was short a can of black beans, but I did have an extra of chickpeas. I figured stock would add more flavor than water. I didn't have oregano or cilantro, but hey if it was decent I could always try it next time. I was a bit wary about the bell pepper (which I also hate) and celery (which seemed counter-intuitive to what I think of chili as a Texan), but I gave it a go.
First taste, ew. Super bland. I looked back at the recipe only to realize there's no salt listed. I guess that makes sense for a health cookbook, but it also makes for a lackluster chili, in my opinion. Salt added, I tried again. Better, but still missing something. A lime really woke it up. And I couldn't resist trying some yacon syrup in it, as I have a weakness for chilies with just a touch of brown sugar.
Wow. Just...wow. I am genuinely surprised. These beans...aren't so bad actually. I would eat them again. Hell, I have no doubt I'll finish off this pot. I'm actually looking forward to seeing how it ages (as chili tends to improve, for those that aren't as familiar with it). It even excited me to try more chili recipes and see what else I can do to improve it. If ya'll have any ideas (I know some of you make fierce chili), please leave a comment.
Black Bean Chili
1-2 Tbsp oil (I use extra virgin olive oil in a spray bottle)
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne (this can be adjusted to taste)
4 roma tomatoes, diced
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed*
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
1 1/2 c chicken stock (you can use water or vegetable stock if you want it vegetarian)
1 tsp of salt or to taste
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp yacon syrup
*You can cook fresh beans if you prefer. The end goal is to have about 45 oz of cooked beans in whatever combo you like.
Heat oil in the bottom of a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin and cayenne. Saute until the vegetable are soft, about 7-10 minutes.
Stir in stock, tomatoes and beans, bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for about 30-40 minutes. It should thicken and blend the flavors. If it gets too thick, you can add water 1/4 cup at a time.
Add lime juice and yacon syrup. Salt to taste.
I found it lovely with a dollop of Greek yogurt. It's probably also tasty with sour cream and/cheese if you're permitted. Enjoy!
So I guess beans aren't so bad after all. Maybe this is the start to a beautiful relationship.