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Black Bean Chili

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Why I Love This Recipe

Simple and straightforward, and nearly impossible to mess up. This recipe comes from the March 2008 Bon Appetit, and as such it's excellent. But what's really nice about a dish like this is that you can make a big pot of it and then make additions as you like, or provide garnishes after it's finished cooking. As an added bonus (and not something I would normally trumpet), it's completely vegetarian

Ingredients You'll Need

2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped (approx. 1 1/2 lbs)
12 garlic cloves, chopped
7 tbsp New Mexico chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
14 cups (or more) water
1 1/2 lbs dried black beans, rinsed
2 1/2 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange peel
1 1/2 tsp minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo


Heat olive oil in heavy pot over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add chili powder and ground cumin and stir 1 minute. Add 14 cups water, black beans, dried oregano, and grated orange peel. Bring mixture to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until black beans are tender, about 2 hours (high simmer – bubbles slightly breaking the surface).

2. Add chipotle chiles and season chili to taste with salt. Simmer until black beans are creamy, mashing coarsely with potato masher to desired consistency, adding more water by 1/2 cupfuls if too thick, and stirring frequently, about 30 minutes longer. Season chili to taste with more salt. (Can be made 3 days ahead).

The orange peel gives this recipe a very subtle brightness, which I like. If you leave it out, though, the chili will still be good. Adding the spices before you add the liquids is key - it's called "blooming" the spices, where toasting them really intensifies the flavor. 14+ cups of water sounds like too much, but it's not - trust me.

And again, you can make additions as you please. Some diced bell pepper would go well here. Maybe even some diced potato; not traditional, but still good. Since you've already opened a can of chipotle chiles in adobo, take about 1 tbsp, chop it up, and toss it into 2-3 cups of sour cream. It makes a nice cool, creamy garnish that goes well with the chili. Salsas work great here, as does grated pepper jack cheese, tortilla chips, maybe even some roasted carnitas (if you don't mind throwing vegetarian out the window). And of course, beer. Beer always goes well with this.

This recipe makes a massive amount of food, which is great for parties. But if it's just you, don't despair - like so many stews, it actually gets better the next day AND it freezes very well.

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