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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Red Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate


This satisfying stew is not a regular chili. Made with shredded grass-fed beef instead of ground beef, and finished with a bit of dark chocolate, it's exceptionally rich and savory.

It's also a good way to use less expensive cuts of grass-fed beef and a fine example of how to eat meat as a condiment in a plant-based diet.

I top this dish with a dollop of strained whole milk yogurt and chopped cilantro. Substitute fresh chopped tomatoes for the yogurt if you want a dairy-free version. For a vegan version, follow the variation at the end of the recipe.

However fancy it may appear, this chili is easy to make. But it does require some advance prep and a few hours to cook, so plan ahead.

If you can, season the meat and soak the red beans 24 hours in advance. Red lentils are so small and tender that they don't really require soaking, although you certainly could do a short soak. I used a combination of adzuki and pinto beans, a half cup of each, but you could use a full cup of one or the other.

1/2 cup dry adzuki beans, pre-soaked for 8 to 24 hours
1/2 cup dry pinto or kidney beans, pre-soaked for 8 to 24 hours 
1 lb organic grass-fed beef for stew, cut into large chunks and seasoned 24 hours in advance if possible
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
8 cups water
1/2 cup red lentils 
2 cups crushed or pureed tomatoes
1 heaping cup diced red onion (1 large onion or 2 small)
2 heaping cups bell peppers (2 medium)
1 fresh chili pepper, thinly sliced in cross section (optional, remove seeds for a milder flavor)
3 garlic cloves or more, grated or finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Three Alarm Chili Powder (recipe follows)
1 oz dark chocolate, 70 to 85%
Whole milk plain yogurt to garnish, Greek, strained or other (optional)

Season the beef cubes with sea salt and ground peppercorn (do this in advance if you can, to allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat). Add the seasoned beef chunks to a large soup pot. Add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer until the beef is tender enough to be shredded easily with a fork, about an hour and a half. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients.

Remove the beef from the pot and set aside to cool slightly. Add the soaked beans and red lentils to the pot, along with the tomatoes, onion, green pepper, garlic, chili pepper, tomato paste and Three Alarm Chili Powder. Stir to combine. Before it cools too much, shred the beef with two forks and return it to the pot. If you wait too long it won't fall apart so easily.

Stir together all of the ingredients and return the mixture to a boil. Once it starts to simmer, reduce the heat to lowest setting. Continue to simmer gently for another hour, until the beans are tender.

Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Poke the dark chocolate down into the chili, cover the pot, and set it aside for 2 hours.

Once the chili has rested, stir to thoroughly incorporate the chocolate into the stew and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately or transfer to the fridge for future use. When ready to eat, re-warm the chili gently over low heat. Do not let it boil.

Garnish with strained whole milk yogurt, chopped fresh tomato, and/or chopped fresh cilantro.

Three Alarm Chili Powder:

1 dried ancho chili pepper (dried poblano chili pepper)
1 dried red chili pepper
1 dried chipotle pepper
1 rounded tbsp coriander seeds
1 rounded tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 rounded tbsp peppercorns, black, white or mixed
1 rounded tbsp ground cumin
1 rounded tbsp ground paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Use clean kitchen shears to cut the chili peppers into pieces and add them to an spice grinder with all the other ingredients. Grind to a powder and store in an airtight container, labeled with the contents and date. Alternatively you can use a mortar and pestle.

Vegan Variation:

Omit the beef. Cook all of the ingredients, except the chocolate and any garnish, with 2 cups of sliced mushrooms until the beans are tender. If desired, add 2 cups cubed tofu or  tempeh and cook until heated through, about 15 more minutes. Add the chocolate and finish as directed above.


Anonymous said...

That recipe ticks all the boxes for me.

Red = my favorite color
Bean = my favorite vegetable
Chili = my favorite spice
Dark chocolate = my favorite sweet

Can't go wrong!

cea said...

Hello, looking forward to trying some of these recipes. They look delicious.

Also, I wanted to mention the Dark Chocolate Sformato has gelatin so I be thinking it wouldn't be classified as vegetarian.

Thanks and cheers


Dr. Sarah Cimperman, ND said...

"Vegetarian" means different things to different people, and some vegetarians eat animal products like eggs, milk, or gelatin. This recipe certainly isn't vegan. Thanks for your comment.