Black Calypso Bean Chili
September 29, 2011
Chili is one of my favorite things to make. I love the way it smells while it’s simmering on the stove, and it’s the perfect cozy food for cool fall evenings. My mom’s wonderful version is probably responsible for my enduring love of cumin. (I really love cumin.) I rarely make the same version of chili twice, because I like to vary the beans I use, sometimes add barley or bulgur, and occasionally throw in chicken or turkey sausage for extra protein. The use of beans in chili is apparently quite a touchy issue with different chili factions, but I always make mine with beans (I really like beans, too).
I had planned to use some leftover heirloom Colorado River Beans for this chili. But then when I was walking through the bulk section at Whole Foods, I came across some heirloom beans that I’m pretty sure weren’t there the last time I checked. They looked like little tiny Shamus (not very good swimmers though, it turns out). How could I possibly pass these up? I promptly filled a bag.
The beans were labelled as Black Calypso, but later research turned up the fact that they are also referred to as Yin Yang, and some references do indeed call them Orca beans. Like a lot of colorful beans, they paled a bit after soaking, and more after cooking, but they did still have a two-tone color after they were done, albeit more of a pale purple contrasted with white at the end. Of course, using dried beans means that you have to soak them overnight, or at the least 4-8 hours, and they take a while to cook, but they have so much more substance than canned beans. Beans really should give some resistance when you bite into them, but I used canned beans for so long, I was pretty much trained to expect them to be slightly mushy. I also find that heirloom beans are more flavorful than your standard black or kidney beans, even if you use the dried versions of those. The contrast between dried heirloom beans and dried black or kidney beans is much less drastic to me than the one between heirloom and mass-grown tomatoes, but there is definitely a perceptible difference.
I had a Hot Portugal pepper from the Farmers’ Market, but hadn’t used that kind before, so did a little pre-testing by touching a bit to my tongue, decided it was mildy hot, and ended up using about 2 tsp of it, since I wasn’t going for super-hot. The resulting chili had a slight bit of heat, but not a lot. Other additions included both an orange bell pepper and a small sweet purple pepper (yes, I bought it just because it was purple), as well as a single chicken sausage left over from a previous dinner. I opted for canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones, since I figured with the spices I would be adding, the flavor of the tomatoes wasn’t as critical as in other dishes.
Black Calypso Bean Chili
1 cup Black Calypso Beans, soaked overnight
2 cups vegetable broth
1-28 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 white onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
your desired amount of hot pepper, minced (I used 2 tsp Hot Portugal)
4-8 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 chicken sausages, cut into very small pieces
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp salt
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, combine the broth and beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook on low until the beans are tender, between 1 and 1+1/2 hours according to the directions (But check them earlier! They took much less time to cook for me.) It’s fine if you end up setting them aside while preparing the rest of the items.
While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for about a minute, and then add the onion and peppers, and sauté until slightly tender. Once the beans are cooked, drain them, and then return them to the soup pot. Add the tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, sausage, and spices. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and add additional spices as desired.