The darker the…

Black beans are delicious,
black beans fill me up.
Black beans are so damn yummy,
they satisfy my tummy…
Oh sorry, don’t mind me singing away to myself. O hey, anyone out there (or should I say first to) that can identify the actual song (yes, lyrics have been altered) and musical* said song came from, I’ll buy you a bag of Three Sisters Garden Black Beans. Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself.

This past week while Blizzard 2011 was blowing a frenzy outside, I was driven to a cooking frenzy in the kitchen. Not talking delicate, precious, fancy ‘elf food’, but hearty, and rib-sticking fare. Lovely little salads just don’t satisfy after hours of clearing snow. A big pot of black bean soup or chili, on the other hand, now THAT is what I’m talking about.

I have always been a fan of the frijol negro. Tiny but big in fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants (psst, the darker the bean the higher the antioxidant value). And for all of us making another go at virtuous new year eating, the black bean is perfect: low in and fat and low in sugar, and keeps you fuller alot longer than that bag of chips or cookies you were contemplating opening around 3pm.

The one thing that has kept me from preparing black beans more often is the soaking step. Well those days are over since I discovered Three Sister’s Garden Black Beans (at Green City Farmers Market).  I had heard about them, and heard about the no soaking thing and was suspect, I mean the beans are dry. Not. That. Dry. Three Sister’s Garden black beans are dry but they are fresh.  Though dry they still contain moisture. The longer a bean is left to dry, sitting on a store shelf or stashed in the the back of your cupboard, they continue to lose moisture. And if you can’t remember when you bought that bag of beans, you might want to just throw them out, cuz all the soaking and cooking ain’t gonna fully cook them, or cook them to a chaulky mess.

And these little beans earn their keep. Not only are they low maintenance in the field, do well in almost any climate, and are easy to harvest, but they return nitrogen to the soil as well. Good for us and good for the earth.  More than I can say for some other more high-maintenance things we consume. But that’s a whole other discussion…

I like black beans with rice, or tossed into salads, or as a soup, or even in my brownies (hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it – ask me for the recipe -so good), but when it is this blustery outside it’s got to be chili.  My chili recipe, like my mood, isn’t constant. Sometimes it’s all meat, sometimes verde, sometimes vegetarian, sometimes a mix of beans, and sometimes it’s one bean and a little bit of meat and veg. That last one would be this week’s version.

Mo’s Black Bean Chili with squash
1 cup of diced slab bacon
1/2 cup diced Spanish chorizo
2 medium onions, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T chili powder
1 T ground coriander
2 15 oz cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 lb bag of dried black beans**
2 chipotle chiles (from can in adobo), minced
2 t dried mexican oregano
1 bottle of beer (your preference, I went with a pilsner this go round)
kosher salt
3 cups diced butternut squash

Cook bacon and chorizo in the bottom of a large heavy pot over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic and stir for about 1 minute. Stir in chili powder and coriander, for an other minute. Add tomatoes, beans, chipotles and oregano. Add bottle of beer and eight cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover, with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until the beans are tender, approximately two hours.  Season with salt here if you need it, I find with the bacon and chorizo you don’t.
Stir squash into chili and continue to simmer, uncovered, over medium low heat until squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
This might sound weird but serve over whole wheat couscous (trust me, as one who only used to make vegetarian chili, things like couscous and bulgur trick your meat loving chili eaters into thinking they are getting a really meaty chili 😉
Garnish with a bit of plain yoghurt or sour cream, cilantro, onions, cheese, avocado or whatever you like to garnish your chili with.

*guessing advantage will go to the musical theatre lovers amongst you.
**Sourcing Three Sisters Garden Black Beans: perfect timing, Three Sisters Garden will be at Green City’s winter market this Saturday, February 12.

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One Response to The darker the…

  1. Sounds AWESOME!! Especially since it’s what?…7 degrees in Chicago right now (-20 with the windchill)? Thanks Mo!

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