Bean Pot Red Bean Chili by Larry Andersen

Iconic Bean Pot

Red Bean Chili

Chili or chili and beans is a matter of personal preference. Mine is for chili and beans. I have been making chili and beans in one form or another for a very long time, from my preteen years. Back then I made it in a cast iron skillet, a single meal for the family. When I graduated to making pot-sized batches of chili and beans I discovered a curious fact. The leftovers, reheated the next day, always seemed to be better than the first day. So, from then on, I have made big batches of chili and beans to enjoy for several days. A cast iron Dutch oven was a great pot to use. Perhaps it was a bit of ambiance, thinking of the trail cook, his chuck wagon, and a Dutch oven full of grub cooking over an open fire. Later in life, as an adult with job and kid responsibilities, a Crockpot would do yeoman service; a hot pot of chili and beans awaited my arrival at home. You can make chili and beans in just about any pot or pan you have.These days I find it fun to cook them a bit like the pioneer homesteaders did, in a classic North American bean pot.

Preparation: Time: 1 hour prep, 4 hours oven plus overnight soak Life Experience Recipe
Makes about 4 1/2 quarts
  • 1 pound dried small red beans
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium red Bell pepper
  • 2 4-ounce cans diced green chilies
  • 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 pounds coarse-ground ground beed
  • 1 medium green Bell pepper
  • 4 jalapeo peppers, diced (see notes)
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons beef base
  • ground black pepper and salt, to taste
  1. Perhaps out of habit I cull the beans making sure there are no little bits of soil, pebbles or twigs mixed in with the beans. Modern farming and packaging has mostly eliminated that but old habits are hard to break. Rinse well and place the beans in a large pot or bowl and cover with cool water. The beans will swell a bit so make sure there is a at least a few inches of water the beans to keep them covered. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. (Follow the package directions if you wish to use the fast soak-boil method of preparing the beans.)
  2. After soaking, drain the beans and rinse well, Place the bans in the cooking pot and cover with 2 or 3-inches of water. Over medium heat bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer. We want to cook the beans until almost done; they will finish cooking in the chili. After 30 minutes check the beans they should be almost done, almost tender. Continue cooking as needed.

  3. When the beans are almost cooked through, drain in a colander and rinse well. (The draining and rinsing steps help to remove certain carbohydrates - raffinose and oligosaccharides that the body has trouble digesting and causes the bloating and discomfort.) Set the beans aside to add to the chili mixture.
  4. Prepare the vegetables; depending on your preference for texture, dice the onions, peppers and chilis. I like a bit of texture and I dice the veggies about medium. ( As given here, the spicy ingredient is the jalapeo chili. Other, hotter chilis can be added or substituted to accommodate your capsaicin preference. I think it is important to try and set the heat level to the lowest tolerance of the diners. You can always kick up the heat with hot sauce but cant knock it down. It would be shame to keep a person from enjoying the chili because it was too hot for them to tolerate. )

  5. Par cook the ground meat until most of the fat is rendered and the ground beef is still slightly pink in the middle. Again, the idea is not to cook thoroughly but par cook, render off most of the fat, and finish the cooking in the bean pot. A little of the natural fat is needed however, to impart the beef flavor along with the beef base. Add the meat to the bean pot.
  6. Sweat the veggies in a 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until softened but not fully cooked: limp and soggy. We want to soften the hard skins of the peppers and chilis and drive off some of the water in the vegetables. Add the cooked vegetables to the meat mixture.

  7. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, diced green chilies, beef base, and spices. Give a good stir to mix. Be gentile with the food as well as the pot, use a wood or plastic spoon. Cover and place in a preheated 325 F oven. ( Place a cookie sheet on a lower rack in case there is any boil over. I am using a 4 quart pot and there is ample head room. A smaller pot might be near over-full. ) Cook for 2 hours. Remove the pot from the oven. Taste adjust seasoning to your pallet. Give a stir to combine. Return to the oven and cook another 2 hours at 225 F.

  8. Diced onions and grated cheese are great garnishes for a steaming hot bowl of chili and beans. Serve with any other of your favorite sides and have a bottle of hot sauce handy for those that want to raise the heat bar.

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Latest revision done July 2022
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