Well, it did not take long for someone to point out that I did not include the Black Bean Chili recipe in the Lell’s Café book. I have shared all of the other soups through the blog but not gotten around to chili. I figured I should remedy that today!
When I make chili at home, it is VERY different from what I made at the café.
My home version is S.P.I.C.Y. Way too spicy to feed to an unsuspecting customer. Even I cry a bit when I make my home version, and I like H.O.T. food! I’m not going to lie; I like a hot pepper high.
Anyway, I also use different ingredients as compared to what I served at the café. I add kidney beans at home. I usually only used black beans at the café because I could multi-task black beans for hummus. I really preferred not to waste storage space with an ingredient useful for only one dish.
I made this chili recipe every Friday in cool weather. This could be ordered by the cup or the bowl, with a choice of chips, cheese, or sour cream. Generally it was ordered with all three.
This chili is very basic: onions, garlic, ground beef, tomatoes, beans, and seasonings. I stick with chili powder, ground cumin, and cinnamon. (Yep, cinnamon.) The trick is to cook for at least two hours, longer if you have the time.
I eat my chili over shredded raw purple cabbage. I love the crunch and the coolness of the cabbage. Classic is to serve with tortilla chips so you can smash them into your bowl to sop up the soupy part. I know a number of people eat chili with corn bread and some even serve over pasta. I have always been fascinated by the regional choices and find that people can be as fierce about chili sides as they are about vinegar versus mustard bar-b-que sauce.
You can do what ever you want, but really in my mind the best thing to do is wait until the end of the day, spread tortilla chips all over a parchment covered large sheet pan, smother with chili and shredded cheese, and throw on some sliced jalapeños. Shove the pan under a broiler and heat until everything is bubbling hot and the cheese is melted. Place the pan in the middle of the table, splotch big spoonfuls of sour cream all over the top, fill a bowl with some spicy salsa, and get the hidden beer out of the cooler. Set out a stack of saucers and forks and call all your staff into the kitchen and stand around eating and drinking and laughing off the intense lunch shift. Then go back to work and finish cleaning so you can call it a day.
I promise, that creates a guaranteed good chili memory to keep you warm on a quiet, gloomy winter day.
- 1 pound grass fed ground beef
- 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tsp. granulated garlic
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ cup chili powder
- 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 6 cups water
- In a large soup pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil and the chopped onion. Stir until the onions soften, about 4 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and use a wooden spoon to break up the beef into spoon size pieces. Add the salt and garlic and stir to combine. Allow the beef and onions to cook for 3 minutes and then stir to allow the ground beef to cook evenly.
- Add the tomatoes, black beans, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon.
- Stir thoroughly and add the water, balsamic, and black pepper.
- Bring the chili to a boil and then turn down the heat to a low simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Simmer for 1 ½ hours, then remove the lid and stir.
- Allow to simmer for at least another 30 minutes with the lid off so the chili can reduce and thicken.
- Taste for salt and adjust.