The Estancia Valley of Torrance County New Mexico is known for it’s Pinto Beans. Now I have never really been a fan of Pinto Beans until I picked up a bag at the local feed and hardware store. Oh my gosh, so much better than what you buy at the grocery store. I don’t know if it’s that they are fresher, but my guess is as with wine grapes, it’s all about the soil and the water. If you can pick up some local beans via a farmer’s market or produce stand, do it. The best way to cook them is in a slow cooker. Sort, soak, slow cook. The only thing I add is water and a bay leaf.
Now, with the the bean part out of the way, let’s talk Chili. I always add a beer to my Chili. When I told my mom that she looked at me like I had two heads. But, you have to add a beer to your Chili. That’s all there is to it. There is a subtle extra layer of flavor when you do. We have this really great Brewery near us where they brew all sorts of interesting beers. New Mexico is famous for their Green Chile. So, how could I not use Green Chile Beer in my Chili. With so many micro breweries around these days the possibilities are almost endless. I would love to hear what beer you choose to add to your Chili.
1 pound dried pinto beans or red beans or 2 cans beans rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper or an assortment of baby bell peppers equal to about 1 Cup
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 pound ground beef
2 tsp chilli powder
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried cilantro or 1 Tbsp fresh
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 beer like Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza
1 Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional)
For dried beans: sort and then rinse beans in a colander. Place them in a pot and add water to cover beans by about 2 to 3 inches. Let them soak for at least 6 hours or better yet, overnight. Add water as needed.
After soaking, drain beans and place them and the bay leaf into Slow Cooker. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours. Check beans periodically to make sure the have at least 1/2 inch of water covering them. Add boiling water if needed.
About one hour before beans are done:
Chop the onions and garlic, seed and chop bell and chipotle peppers.
Heat oil in a medium size skillet until shimmering. Add ground beef and cook until just brown seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove beef from skillet and set aside. Don’t even think about draining off the beef fat – that’s flavor.
Add onion and then bell peppers to skillet and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and then rest of ingredients except beer and tomatoes. Cook until lightly browned.
Now add the beer and tomatoes to deglaze pan. Scrape up all those brown bits!
Add contents of the skillet, beef and tomato paste to slow cooker. Cook for another hour or so on low. Test 3 or 4 beans to make sure they are soft and cooked through. Add salt to taste. Adding salt earlier will result in tough beans.
Finish with toppings like shredded cheddar, sour cream, corn chips and green onions. It’s even better the next day and freezes well.