Good things come in slow-cooked packages


I won’t lie: This chili takes three hours to make. Now, before you roll your eyes, just hear me out. When you make this rich and meaty black bean stew, you will be rewarded with a comforting, deeply flavored chili, tinged with smoke and fragrant with spice. Your family will be grateful, your guests will be impressed, and any neighbors in proximity to the aromas wafting from your kitchen window will be quite envious. In fact, you might want to share a bowl with them.

If this is not enticing enough, here is more good news: While the chili-making process will take several hours, most of the time will require little effort from you in the food-prep department. This chili is self-sufficient. It will do most of the work itself, simmering and bubbling away in the oven, allowing the meat to tenderize in a heady, smoky ragout, absorbing the flavors and mingling in a swirling brew of beer, tomato and spice. It will generously make you feel useful by asking for an occasional stir; otherwise, you can go read a book. The only other responsibility required of you is to wait while it finishes cooking. It will be worth it.

Beef and Black Bean Chili

Active time: 1 hour

Total time: 3 to 3 1/2 hours 

Yield: Serves 6

2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef chuck, excess fat trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large white onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup tomato paste

12 ounces Mexican beer or pale ale

1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian plum tomatoes

1 cup beef or chicken stock

2 minced chipotles in adobo with juices

2 cups cooked black beans or 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Season the beef on all sides with salt and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven (or ovenproof pot with a lid) over medium-high heat. In batches, without overcrowding the pan, brown the meat on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining meat.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil from the pot. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute over medium heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chile powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano and cloves. Stir to toast the spices, about 15 seconds, then add the tomato paste and continue to stir to blend and darken, about 1 minute more.

Pour in the beer and deglaze the pan, stirring up any brown bits. Add the tomatoes, stock and chipotles. Return the beef to the pot with any collected juices. The meat should be completely submerged in the liquid. If not, top off the stew with more stock to cover the meat.

Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Transfer the pot to the stovetop. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chili reduces and thickens slightly, about 20 minutes, skimming any fat that rises to the surface.

Stir in the beans, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Taste for seasoning and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls with garnishes, such as diced avocado, sliced jalapenos, chopped red onion, sour cream, fresh cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.


Lynda Balslev is an award-winning writer, cookbook author, and recipe developer based in northern California. Visit TasteFood at TasteFoodblog.com.