A staple in our home growing up was my mother’s chili beans, which she still makes several times a month with either ground beef or turkey. Many chilis I’ve encountered seem almost designed to give you heartburn. This one isn’t. These chili beans are more mild and less fatty than most, especially if you use ground turkey. Yet they are very flavorful, hearty, and filling. My mom learned this method of preparing chili beans years ago, when she was still teaching school, from a fellow teacher from Louisiana.
Mom’s Chili Beans Recipe
Can be prepared in 1 hour or less. If using dry beans, older beans may take longer to cook to become tender. If you soak the dry beans for several hours ahead of time, they will require less cooking time. Make sure if you do this to drain the soaking water and replace with fresh water before cooking the beans.
- 2 cups Pinto beans (uncooked, can also used canned)
- 1 lb ground beef (ground round) or ground turkey
- 2 cups uncooked white rice
- 1 yellow onion - chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 to 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 can of tomatoes (14 oz)
- 1 Jalapeno pepper (cooked, canned) -sliced (Note concerning the tomatoes and Jalapeno pepper: mom will substitute these on occasion with a cup of Pace brand salsa - works fine)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
1 Start with the pinto beans. (If using canned beans, rinse them and skip to step 2.) Put the beans into a large pot and cover with at least 3 inches of water (about 3 quarts of water). Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender.
By the way, my mother uses a pressure cooker to cook pinto beans. To cook beans with a pressure cooker, cook no more than 2 cups of beans in a 4 quart pressure cooker, with the water added until it reaches the fill line indicated for the capacity of the pressure cooker. Cook the beans for 35 minutes with 15 pounds of pressure and low heat. After 35 minutes, allow the pressure cooker to cool completely. Make sure that the pressure cooker has completely cooled before opening, and if there is any resistance when opening, do not open it. Follow the directions for your particular brand of pressure cooker. (See safety tips on pressure cookers.)
2 While the beans are cooking cook the rice according to the instructions on the rice package. Add a Tbsp of butter to the rice while it is cooking for flavor.
3 In a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp of olive oil until translucent on medium high heat. Move the onions over to one side of the pan, turn up the heat to high, and brown the meat away from the onions in the same pan. (If you do not have a large enough skillet, use two separate smaller skillets for the onions and beef.) Add chili powder to meat as it is cooking. Start with one tablespoon, and add more as needed to taste. Stir in the onions and garlic. Add chopped parsley. Add one can of tomatoes. Add sliced Jalapeno pepper. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.
4 Once the beans are cooked, drain them. Add the beans to the meat and onions, adding another teaspoon of salt to the beans as they go in. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, tasting and adding more salt if needed to taste. Stir in cilantro leaves right before serving, or sprinkle on top.
Serve over rice or with warm corn tortillas.
Yield: Serves 4.