Test Kitchen - Pink Bean Chili

Ah, the dish of many a cook-off. The man's meal. The brown steaming goop we lovingly pour over our fries with cheese as if some bastardized version of poutine that is much more representative of "AMERIKUH!" I recall not liking chili growing up because I had an aversion to beans. Now with my tastebuds refreshed, I have no qualms with these high-in-fiber edible seeds and in some cases, welcome them into my meals. When our Test Kitchen ingredient was the pink bean, further research told me that these were also called "chili beans." Since Duc has been asking me to make chili for probably a year by this point, it only felt appropriate to finally whip together a recipe for the dish after which the beans were also called. This following recipe makes use of dry beans so keep that in mind before you get started. It will take several hours and requires some overnight soaking!

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 10-12 servings)

  • 1 1/2 white onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 bag dry pink beans (12 oz)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 dried red chiles
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 2 tsps cumin
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • red onion, finely minced for garnish (optional)
  • shredded Mexican cheese blend, for garnish (optional)
Step 2: Prepping ingredients
If you choose to use canned beans instead of dry, that's your prerogative. If you use dry, rinse them and soak overnight! We like big pieces of onion in our food so we did a rough chop of those. Heat up a large pot with a thin layer of oil. Add onions and stir until slightly translucent. Add in ground beef and brown. We went with a 30% fat mixture of ground beef to capitalize on its oils to flavor the chili. Mince garlic and add that in with the dry beans.

Step 3: Stewing
Honestly the hardest part of making this chili was just waiting. Once the garlic looked aptly cooked but not burned, we added in all the rest of the ingredients save for the optional garnishes listed above. A slow stir to mix everything together later, you'll have the makings of a tasty chili. Bring to a boil first before reducing to a simmer; cover with lid. Stir every half hour or so to help with even cooking.

Step 4: Finishing
The main point is to get all of the beans cooked through which can take 2-3 hours. The duration of time will also continue to cook some parts of the beef to an eventual slurry which may be familiar to you when ordered out. Before serving, make sure to fish out the dried red chiles. Top with cheese and finely minced red onions if you so desire and enjoy the slow burn!

This week's Test Kitchen ingredient: Dill pickles
We call them pickles but really, they are pickled cucumbers. Basically these are cucumbers that have been pickled in brine or by another form of fermentation, resulting in a sour "pickle," of which Dill is quite popular. Most people don't necessarily cook something with them but we thought we should give it a shot. Let us know on Facebook what you think we ought to try making using pickles.

Photography by Minerva Thai and Duc Duong.