Our first official Lenten supper this year was this black bean chili on rice with a salad. We cook some sort of chili several times during Lent, and one pot is usually good for a couple of meals. If you don’t enjoy the asphalt-like appearance of cooked black beans, pinto beans work well too.
This recipe starts with dry beans, which is how we always do it. Cooking beans in the oven is the way to go — you don’t have to watch the beans constantly to make sure they’re not burning.
Preheat the oven to 325°.
In a saucepan, cover 2 cups dried black beans with water (water should be about an inch over the beans) and bring to a boil. Let them simmer for a few minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a dutch oven (or other lidded pot that can safely go in the oven) combine:
- 1 chopped onion
- several chopped cloves of garlic (to taste)
- 1/2 to 1 tsp salt
- at least a tablespoon of chili powder
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
- a couple of bell peppers, chopped (note: we often use a bagged frozen “pepper and onion mix” sold at our supermarket)
- several dashes of your favorite hot sauce (we use Tapatio)
Stir in the beans, using enough of their cooking liquid to cover all the ingredients about 1/2 inch deep in liquid. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. The beans may take several hours to cook fully. Every hour or so, stir the pot and make sure the beans are barely covered with liquid. You’ll probably have to add some water. Taste a couple of beans to see if they’re soft; when they’re soft, you’re done.
Like most seasoned dishes, this tastes best when it’s been allowed to sit for awhile.
We have a 3-quart lidded metal pot with metal handles, which we can use to boil the beans, then add the other ingredients, then put the whole thing in the oven, which saves washing a pot.
A warning about beans. Looking at the above recipe, you may be thinking, “Why not do it in a Crock-pot?” That’s a great idea. You could put everything together, start it cooking, and mostly ignore it for the rest of the day.
The warning: Some varieties of beans are toxic if they’re not brought to a full boil for several minutes, and slow-cookers won’t really do the job. Be sure to boil the beans for a few minutes first.