October 16, 2011

5-bean chili with Leffe brown beer and chipotle peppers

I try to cook beans from scratch because I like that they aren't too processed, but I use canned beans too. To make it easier to use dried beans, I'll share how I normally prep them. I either soak the beans, in a huge bowl filled with lots of water, first thing in the morning, or I soak them overnight. If you soak them in the morning, you can cook the beans when you prep dinner; if you soak overnight, you can cook them first thing in the morning. They can cook, mostly ignored, in a large soup stockpot, or pressure cooker, or crock-pot (see this post on cooking beans and lentils). Once done cooking, you can store the cooled beans and broth in the fridge until ready to use. If you start doing this 2 days per week, you'll have lots of healthy beans to throw into random dishes. For example, stirring in a cup of mixed beans into a pasta dish, topping a salad, filling a burrito with them, or beans on toast. Or perhaps some spicy chili for a cool fall day?

I've used the Belgian Leffe brown beer for this because it has a balanced subtle sweetness, and I like the malty notes it left in the chili. Use any brown or amber beers (or really any beer you feel like dumping into a soup pot) with a nice body and aroma. Plus it's always cool to cook with beer. 

5-bean chili with Leffe brown beer and chipotle peppers
Ingredients: listed in order of use
Yield: 4 servings, about 1 and 1/2 cups

1 and 1/4 cup dried beans, (any mixture of dried black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans) soaked and cooked; Canned beans are totally fine too. Use 2 or 3, 14 oz cans of different canned beans.
1 tsp olive oil
1 red onion
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup Leffe dark beer, slightly more if foamy at first (let it reduce by half), 
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 Tbsp chili powder (recipe below)
1 small canned chipotle pepper, about 1 tbsp chopped pepper, add more for extra heat
remainder of beer
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 cup corn, frozen or canned
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
cilantro to garnish
1/2 tsp salt (to taste if not enough)
yogurt and shredded cheese (optional for garnish)

Chili powder:
1 T of smoked paprika
1 T cumin
1 T oregano (or other mixed herbs such as thyme, mint,)
1/8 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
This is a variation that can be adjusted to your taste and preference. The smoked paprika is very delicious in this dish. I'd recommend adding a tsp to the chili just before serving. Mix all the spices together in a small bowl and set aside until ready to use.

  1. Saute onions and garlic in the olive oil. Once the onions turn a bit golden, add in 1 cup or more of the beer. It will foam and settle down, releasing a delicious smell. Let it reduce by half, then add in the green bell peppers.
  2. Add in 2 T of the spice mixture and the chipotle peppers (a chopped chipotle pepper should be about 2 tbsp).
  3. Add the cooked beans to the pot along with the about 1 cup of the bean broth. If using canned beans, rinse and drain them (it removes the salty brine taste), and use 1 cup water instead. Pour the rest of the beer into the chili, along with 1 cup of chopped tomatoes. Stir to combine, turn up heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Before serving add in 1 cup of canned corn (if using frozen corn add it in 10 minutes before the chili is done). Stir in rest of beer and 1tbsp of lime juice.

Top with a dollop of plain yogurt, shredded cheese and garlic bread.


  1. ... or eat it AK style - over plain rice with shredded cheddar, slices of avocado and corn bread. Yum!

    This recipe looks interesting... the only other chili I've made with beer was pork-based... unfortunately it turned out pretty bitter. I still haven't figured out if it was because of the beer/alcohol or coffee. I'm thinking it was the coffee because I cook 'carbonnades a la flamande' (aka "stoofvlees") with beer all the time, and that doesn't turn out bitter..

    oh well, I don't know. I'll just have to try out this recipe, I think. I've really started appreciating beans only in the last few years, and since I discovered Rancho Gordo beans, I've also learned that I *can* cook tasty, toothsome and soft beans that are not overcooked! It turns out it was the beans, not the cook, which made them mushy :)

  2. yes love AK style too! if i could get my hands on cornmeal I'd be baking it! Nico, you can still use pork too, just use 1/2 the beans or whatever. I love pinto beans in chili, it is a must! I was just happy that I've been cooking with more beer!

  3. We don't use cornmeal, Jiffy in muffin tin does the trick any day :)

    Actually, I made this skillet corn bread recipe recently, and it turned out good too. But Jiffy is our trusty standby.

    I don't think this chili needs pork, I think it's plenty satisfying as-is!

    Have you heard of Rancho Gordo?

  4. Nico isn't Jiffy cornmeal mix? oh i love skillet cornbread, stir some jalapenos in (with butter instead of shortening) and i'm good! we used to make it like that with our cast iron too. Haven't heard of RG, but have tried some heirlooms when I can get them (like christmas lima beans). Belgium doesn't seem to be bean-eating country and I'm too lazy and stubborn to buy online and pay shipping, just have to wait til I'm in northern CA to get some...like next week =) see you soon!