Saturday, April 17, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Pantry raid

I just joined the "I heart cooking clubs" group. Originally I planned to wait until next weeks theme to get started but I really like the Pantry raid theme, and decided I would use it for tonight's dinner. I found a recipe by Mark Bittman (who is the chef/cook the group is focusing on for 6 months) that uses dried pinto beans. I happen to have a bag of dried pinto beans that has been in my pantry for probably as long as we have lived in our house (5 years). I made Chili non carne and used the tomato variation. The recipe was basic and hearty. It is a perfect fall meal so I will be using it again for sure. We added a little hot sauce and extra seasoning because it was a tiny bit bland (although that was probably my fault because I made 1.5 times the beans the recipe calls for and forgot to add extra seasoning). I read his instructions wrong and didn't let them cook as long as they were supposed to before adding the tomatoes, so I ended up pouring everything into the electric pressure cooker and dinner was saved! Nobody likes crunchy, not cooked enough, beans.

Chili non Carne

Makes 6 to 8 servings
Time: About 2 hours, largely unattended

Chili means different things to different people; I think of it as slow-cooked red beans seasoned with cumin and chiles, though some insist that chili should be made with meat and few or even no beans. To me, at that point you've entered the realm of cassoulet, though the second variation includes meat. Other beans you can use: red or pink beans are traditional, but you can also use cannellini or other white beans alone or in combination.

1 pound dried pinto beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like

1 whole onion, unpeeled, plus 1 small onion, minced Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup bean-cooking liquid, vegetable stock, or water 1 fresh or dried hot chile, seeded and minced, or to taste (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste (optional)

1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Put the beans in a large pot with water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming the foam if necessary. Add the whole onion. Adjust the heat so the beans bubble steadily but not violently and cover loosely.

2. When the beans begin to soften (30 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of bean and whether or not you soaked the beans), season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are quite tender but still intact (about as long as it took them to begin to soften).

3. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid if you choose to use it. Discard the onion and add all the remaining ingredients except the cilantro. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low.

4. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until the beans are very tender and the flavors have mellowed, about 15 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice, crackers, or tortilla chips and bottled hot sauce.

Chili with Tomatoes.

This simple addition makes a big difference; you might also add 1/4 teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon: Substitute 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato (canned is fine; don't bother to drain) for the bean or other liquid. Cook carefully, adding a little more liquid if needed. Top with freshly grated cheddar or other semihard cheese if you like.

Chili con Carne.

Try this with the preceding variation: While the beans are cooking, put 1 tablespoon neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 pound hand-chopped or ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken and cook, stirring, until the meat has lost its color, about 10 minutes. Season the meat with salt, pepper, and about 2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste. Stir it into the beans along with the other ingredients.

White Chili.

Substitute any kind of white beans for the pinto beans. In Step 3, when you discard the onion, stir in 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (grilled is terrific).


  1. It looks delicious--perfect comfort food--especially the last picture with all the cheese on top. A great pantry raid choice.

    Happy to have you cooking along with us too. ;-)

  2. That is great looking chili, and I love all the variations you have given as well. Great choice.

  3. Great looking chili. Have to have the cheese and maybe a dollop of sour cream too.

  4. I love a good chili! So glad you are cooking along with us.

  5. I'm not a beans person, so this wouldn't work for me, but it is nice to see something come together so well (and thank goodness for pressure cookers!)