The weather here in Austin has been topsy-turvy lately. Although we’ve been enjoying blissful weather this week (72 and sunny is my idea of heaven), we had a cold snap a couple of weeks ago, and to me, cold weather is chili weather.
I already have a standby chili recipe that I love to use, but I wanted to try something a little different, so I cracked open the San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook and landed on a recipe for black bean chili with smoky chipotles. Yes, please! I adapted it for the crock pot, and it came out perfectly with minimal effort.
The chili was smoky and a little spicy — perfect for the grown-ups, but a little much for Nora. At least there was cornbread!
In flipping through cookbooks in search of a recipe, I landed on Cooks Illustrated’s Golden Northern Cornbread. Despite the title, it was much like the cornbread I ate growing up in Texas. I highly recommend it for an easy and delicious alternative to boxed mix that you can make with ingredients you probably already have on hand.
But enough about the cornbread — to the main event!
- 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
- 4 cups water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 canned chipotle in adobo, minced
- 3 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- sour cream, for serving
- Cover the beans with water and soak overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
- Drain and rinse the beans. Cover with new water and bring to a rapid boil on the stovetop. Boil hard for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove from the heat. Drain the beans and add them to the crock pot along with 4 cups of water.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic, cumin and chili powder and stir until fragrant.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the onion mixture to the crock pot, along with the tomatoes and their liquid, and the bay leaves, chipotle, vinegar and brown sugar.
- Cover the crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours, then reduce the heat to low for an additional 2 to 3 hours. When the beans are almost done (with just a little firmness left to the bite), add the salt. Continue cooking until the beans are done.
- Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream, and some good cornbread on the side.