Heirloom Bean Chili

Cook, Dinner, Meat-Free Mains, Recipes

Heirloom Bean Chili

Although you could make this hearty chili—the perfect choice for National Chili Day—with your usual pinto or kidney beans, it’s worth seeking out heirloom beans, which come a wide variety of gorgeous variegated colors and complex flavors. Be sure to soak the beans before cooking. To soak overnight, place the beans in a large pot and add water to generously cover. The next day, drain the beans and cook as directed below. For a quick soak, place the beans in a large pot and add water to cover by 2 inches (5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat, remove from the heat, cover the pot and let stand for 1 hour, then drain the beans and cook. To decrease the cooking time by about half, cook the soaked beans in a pressure cooker on high pressure.


Heirloom Bean Chili




  • 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) dried heirloom beans, such as pebble beans, appaloosa beans, or Anasazi beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. (500 g) boneless chuck roast, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
  • 2 lb. (1 kg) boneless pork butt, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) canola oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 to 2 large jalapeño chiles, cored, seeded and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 2 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 3 cans (each 14 oz./440 g) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) beef stock or water, plus more as needed
  • Grated cheddar cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped red onion and sour cream for serving




1. Place the beans in a large pot and add water to cover by 2 inches (5 cm). Add the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt, then drain the beans. Remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Transfer the beans to a bowl.


2. Season the beef and pork with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the oil. Working in batches, add the beef and pork and sear until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl.


3. Reduce the heat to medium and warm the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. Add the yellow onions, bell peppers and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili seasoning and cumin and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.


4. Return the beef and pork to the pot and add the tomatoes with their juices, the wine and stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef and pork are almost tender, about 1 hour. Skim the excess fat off the surface. Add the cooked beans and simmer, uncovered, until the beef and pork are tender and the chili thickens, about 30 minutes, adding more stock as needed. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.


5. Ladle the chili into warmed bowls and serve immediately with cheese, cilantro, red onion and sour cream. Serves 6 to 8.


Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen




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