Beans and coffee.

A few weeks ago we stocked up on beans so that I'd always have something relatively easy to make. I figured that nearly every night I'd be chowing down on what we refer to as 'burrito in a bowl' - a scoop of rice, a scoop of black beans, some salsa, sour cream, maybe some avocado and you're good to go. However, as soon as I was on my own, I had the urge to actually cook rather than just heat things up in the microwave. I haven't done the 'burrito in a bowl' thing in weeks.

But now I have this pile of dried black beans that hasn't been touched. This isn't really a problem. There's no danger of them going bad. But I feel like I should do something with them. So I started flipping through How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and came across a recipe for espresso black bean chili. I really, really like coffee, so I figured 'why not?' Also, within a few pages of the chili was a recipe for beer glazed beans, which I made Saturday night. They were quick and easy, tasty enough I suppose, but somewhat dry. For the beer, I used a coffee porter that was in the fridge which gave them a nice flavour. I'd cook them a little less next time and leave them runny; soaking the sauce up with cornbread could be pretty tasty. I should have left them like this:

Regardless, on to the chili, adapted slightly from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:

Espresso Black Bean Chili
  • 3 tbsp. grapeseed oil (I used 2)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic (I used 5-6 cloves)
  • 3 cups chopped ripe tomato (I used a 796ml can)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup fresh espresso, or 1 to 2 cups freshly brewed coffee (I used Kicking Horse 454 Horse Power, which is quite strong)
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (I'll use 3 tbsp. molasses next time, which is the other option)
  • one 3-inch cinnamon stick (I used two, and I'll mix some ground cinnamon next time)
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • salt and pepper
It seems like every Bittman recipe I make starts the same way - put the oil in a pot over medium high heat and, when hot, cook the onions about 5 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook a minute longer. Add everything else, plus enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, so the chili just bubbles along nicely. Cover, cook anywhere from 40-90 minutes until the beans are tender. Season to taste with more sugar, salt, or pepper. Serves 6-8.

This was really great served with a bit of sour cream and some cornbread, which I made in the cast iron skillet. I'm going to make this again, I'm sure, but I'll use a little more coffee, more sugar and/or molasses, some ground cinnamon, and maybe increase the tomatoes by half.

Two days, two coffee infused bean dishes, both tasty.


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