I’m looking at the calendar wondering where two months have gone. March is right around the corner but where I live the temperature has dropped to the teens in the last week and it seems as though it may not being warming up soon.
Surefire antidotes to lingering wintry weather are robust, comforting foods that invite staying in to cook and then serving them up to the familia and for the unannounced visitors. Chili is that food—warm, full of spices, filling, and really homey.
While most chilis I’ve eaten or come across in varying recipes call for only beans—kidney beans—and classic spices, there are ways to fancy it up and make it one spectacular bowl of goodness. Since beans are the core of the dish (well, unless you’re a major carnivore and you must have chunks and chunks of carne) they should be highlighted and stand out!
Everyone knows beans are a staple in any Latin kitchen so any reason to cook with them or add more to the pot is good enough. They’re a fantastic source of protein and fiber. Because beans are complex carbohydrates, they offer an extreme amount of energy and quickly fill you up, allowing you to avoid a super splurge on sugar just an hour later.
From my unofficial research, black beans seem to be the most popular and favored as they’ve made the crossover to American cuisine. They’re my best go-to bean for meatless dishes requiring something meaty, earthy, and of substance.
Read Related: Estefan’s Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
Second to black beans, the little starchy garbanzo or chickpea is top on the list. They’re actually a legume, but quite often mistaken for beans and are used and referred to as such. They come in many varieties and are extremely versatile, much like the black bean. It’s also very meaty and acts as a great filler. Not to mention they’re super inexpensive.
When I finally settled on ideas for my gourmet-ish chili, it only made sense to marry the kidney bean with an equally good if not better bean. I went for the chickpeas which served nicely for color balance. Either way, a bean duo or even trio will yield an amazing cazuela of a hearty “stew” to hold you over during frosty nights. The kickers though: sage and truffle oil. These two ingredients combined are literally like the perfect café con leche.
You know the saying There’s love and well, there’s love? Well there’s bar chili and then there’s really good chili. This is it. Make, savor, and repeat.
TWO BEAN SAGE CHILI
Yields: 6 bowls
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
½ cup dry garbanzos*
½ cup dry kidney beans*
3-4 large fresh tomatoes, chunked
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup salt-free cup chicken broth
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 oz tomato paste
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. black truffle oil
6 sage leaves, minced
3 tsp. salt
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. jalapeño, minced
1 bay leaf
Pepper to taste
1. Wash and rinse beans. Soak in 4 quarts of water overnight. Rinse beans again and fill large pot with water. Add salt and bay leaf. Cover pot and cook beans for one hour.
2. While beans are cooking heat truffle oil in large non-stick or stainless steel skillet. Add meat and pull apart using wooden fork. Cook meat until brown, scraping up any extra browned pieces.
3. Add tomatoes, red wine vinegar, cumin, oregano, sage, onions, garlic, and green pepper. Combine well and cover. Cook on medium-high heat until tomatoes begin to cook down and become liquid. Turn off heat on beans.
4. Uncover and add meat and tomato mixture to beans. Add black pepper, chili powder, chicken broth and tomato paste. Mix well and cover.
5. Cook on low-medium for additional 30-40 minutes until tomato paste is cooked down and beans are tender but not split.
6. Garnish with fresh sage leaves and serve with garlic roasted tortilla chips.
*Chef’s Note: Canned beans can be used in place of dry beans. If so, rinse and proceed with cooking method only cooking the beans for 20 minutes, not one hour. After all ingredients are blended, cover and allow to cook another 20 minutes.