Monday, May 24, 2010

Beef and bean chili

Yes, it's true. I'm Texan and I put beans in my chili. Purists will recoil, but they don't have to feed five people using organic beef on a budget. Beans add bulk, flavor, and nutrition, and they are very, very cheap. Viven los frijoles!

Brown about a pound of beef in oil (I also add about a half cup of water) with one medium-sized chopped onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. When the beef is thoroughly browned and crumbled, cover it, visually speaking, with several shakes of chili powder. You'll need to do this to the level of spice that you can bear. I probably end up putting a few tablespoons in. A couple of shakes of cumin (about the equivalent of maybe a tablespoon), and salt and pepper to taste. Stir it up nicely and let simmer for a few minutes.

Then add a couple of cans of tomatoes stewed with poblano peppers. Here we use RoTel, which comes in regular or spicy, but any kind of canned chopped tomatoes with poblanos will do, or separate cans of each. I drain the cans first or the chili gets too acidy. Stir that in, then add in one or two cans of pinto beans. Please do not use kidney beans or I will have to come to your house, confiscate the "chili," and turn you into the Tex-Mex police for violation of Code 7.21, "Thou Shalt Not Use Kidney Beans in Any Dish Purporting to Be of Mexican or Tex-Mex Origin." Next in the code comes 7.22, which reads, "Black Olives Are Not Really Part of Tex-Mex or Mexican Cuisine."

At this point, I rinse the each can by filling it about a quarter to a third full with good water, swirling it, and then depositing the liquid into the chili, too. This gives it a good consistency for serving over rice, etc.

Stir it up. Let it simmer for about a half hour, stirring occasionally. We serve this over steamed rice or bean and cheese tamales or regular tamales, with cheese sprinkled on top (colby/jack mix is our choice) and corn chips--decent ones--on the side. It's satisfying as it can be, and with the beans added, you might just get two dinners' worth out of it for your family.


  1. Can I ask why the kidney bean ban? Not that, um, I would, um, ever actually USE kidney beans in my chili. Oh, no. NOT ME. (TC scurries to close her cabinet doors so Emily doesn't see what's inside them.)

    Oh, wait. Did you say you'd come TO MY HOUSE to confiscate them? Hey! Lookie here! Three cans of kidney beans in my chili recipe! ;-)

  2. Well, the darned things are just so...Northern (when it comes to faux Northern Tex-Mex cooking), although they're really South American, I think (truthfully, all those beans are from the same beany ancestor, but they're still so different from each other). Kidney beans are always turning up in "Tex-Mex" and "Mexican" dishes in *Parade* magazine, along with those black olives. It makes us Texas border-dwelling folk groan.

    Pintos are a classic (central) Mexican legume. Plus, kidney beans are gross. They're just too big and legumy in my book, big old starchy things. But that's just my book. I won't tell if you use them instead of pintos. We all draw our own purist lines.

  3. I used to use kidney beans in my chili, then one time I didn't have any so I used pinto and a can of great northern. We loved the pinto beans in it, and henceforth now don't like any chili with kidney beans (which is hard to find up here - everyone uses kidney).