I love making chili all year long. It's easy and relatively hands free. I love the idea of making chili from dried beans instead of dumping out a can… although during really busy times of the year I will buy canned beans too. You can mix bean types, add in whatever flavors you like and use the chili for other recipes. It really is a great staple to have on the menu.
Making Mixed Bean Chili
When using dried beans for chili, or any recipe you want to make sure to at least rinse off the beans. Some beans need to be soaked. I don't always follow that “rule” and things usually turn out just fine.
You can cook your chili beans on the stove-top, but I prefer to use a slow cooker or crock pot. My day is so much easier if I don't have to keep checking on the stove.
Here's how I make my chili – keep in mind it varies all the time depending on what ingredients I have available… this is the general idea I follow for all my chili recipes.
I'm giving a wide open range of ingredients here rather than being specific. The basic ingredients are beans and flavor. I add in all kinds of things depending on what I have on hand. Anything from cooked meat or left-over vegetables to lentils or quinoa.
- Dried beans
- Seasoning – I use taco seasoning and garlic salt
- Other good ingredients to include:
- Chopped onions
- Green peppers
- Browned ground beef – already seasoned
Making mixed bean chili
- Rise off all the beans in a colander.
- Place the dried beans in the slow cooker with water. I like a ratio of 1 cup of beans to 2 cups of water. I've let beans sit in the slow cooker too long and the water has cooked out.. this is not a pretty meal!
- Add in any seasoning you'd like, generally I use a tablespoon of seasoning to every 1:2 ratio of beans to water. Allow the beans to cook on high for at least 4 hours. Depending on the type of beans you have, you may need to cook them for another 2-4 hours. Kidney beans seem to take the longest for me. If I'm using kidney beans, I set them to cook overnight.
- Once the beans are soft mix you can add additional seasoning, cheese or even pre-cooked meat and then serve.
How do I know if my beans are ready?
Ann Burrelle from the food network suggests a 6 bean test. test 6 beans and if all are soft, all your beans are finished cooking. I love this advice, especially when making a mixed bean chili. I also love Ann Burrelle… I think she would be extra fun to go to lunch with.
Look at that yummy sauce. All that sauce comes from the beans cooking in the water with the seasoning. I don't usually add any other kinds of sauce. I've tried adding tomato sauce or paste and it just ends up tasting too much like spaghetti. We don't like a lot of spice… I don't like a lot of spice, so my chili tends to be more taco and cheesy flavored. But you can spice up your chili with as much or as little heat as you'd like. Play around with it, experience and just get creative! If you aren't sure of the flavors you are working with, make a small batch and test it out.
Another way to test out flavors, work with small cans of pre-cooked beans first. Play with your seasoning and flavors and then move on to cooking it into your own beans. This will save you tons of time waiting for dried beans to cook. In my opinion, dried beans end up tasting WAY better because the seasoning has had a chance to really soak into the beans as they cook.
Now I'm hungry… I think it's time to head out and make some dinner. I hope you enjoy making your own chili!