Recipe: Three Bean Chilli

This Three Bean Chilli can be made with almost any sort of tinned beans (except maybe baked beans) so it’s a great use for any tins that have been lurking at the back of the cupboard. You can use dried beans too but you’d need to soak and cook them in advance. If you are using dried beans you will need about 500g in total as they roughly double in volume once soaked and cooked. If you don’t have three different types then just use two types or even one in a pinch, though it is nice to have a bit of variety!

Colorado sauce basically just means ‘red sauce’  and is usually a blend of different chillies, garlic and sometimes spices. It is a staple in all sorts of Mexican or ‘Tex-Mex’ dishes such as Chilli Con Carne, Enchilada, Huevos Rancheros etc. If you don’t have the ingredients for the the Colorado Sauce then you can replace it with a tin of chopped tomatoes and a bit of chilli powder (added at the same time as the cumin), it won’t be quite the same but it will still be really yummy!

Serves 4 – 6

For the Colorado Sauce:
4 small dried chillies or 2 large fresh ones (or more or less to taste)
1 red pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
A large pinch of salt
OR if you don’t have any of these ingredients then use one tin of chopped tomatoes and add a 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder at the same time as the other spices

For the Chilli:
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
4 tins of beans, drained (ideally a mix of three different sorts, for example 2 tins red kidney beans, 1 tin of cannellini and 1 tin of black eyed beans)
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 green pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
salt and dark brown sugar

If using dried chillies soak them in boiling water for half an hour, then slit them and wash out the seeds. If using fresh chillies remove the seeds and stalk and roughly chop. Remove the seeds from the red pepper and roughly chop.  Put all the ingredients in a blender and puree with a few tablespoons of water

Heat a large casserole dish or heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid over a high heat. Once hot add the oil and then immediately add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until soft and slightly browned.

Add the garlic, green pepper, tomato concentrate, ground cumin, bay leaf and one teaspoon salt. Cook for another few minutes, stirring the whole time. Add the drained beans, the Colorado sauce (or tinned tomatoes) and about 200ml water (just enough to almost cover the beans). Bring to a simmer and then put the lid on and turn the heat down to low and cook for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and add a splash more water if needed.

Taste the chilli and add salt and sugar to taste. I usually add about one teaspoon brown sugar.

Serve on rice or on top of nachos with whatever toppings you fancy, such as; guacamole, pink pickled onions (recipe here), sour cream, toasted sunflower seeds, grated cheese, tomato salsa, fresh coriander and chopped lettuce.


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