Although I’ve created many recipes for different kinds of chili, the one I love most is this pinto bean chili with pan-roasted spices. Dry-roasting cumin and coriander seeds in a hot pan gives these two spices a depth and nuttiness that permeates the dish. As I hand-grind the roasted spices in a mortar, the whole kitchen comes alive with their intense aroma. (Any recipe that starts this way, in my book, is a good dish!)
Food & wine pairing: California, Zinfandel with pinto bean chili
A California Zinfandel is fabulous with this chili. I’m especially fond of the exceptional wines from Ridge Vineyards. Year after year, they make single-vineyard Zinfandels that are a delight to discover and to enjoy!
Pinto bean chili with pan-roasted spices and chipotle – served with quinoa
active time: 40 min
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium Vidalia onions – peeled and cut in 1/4″ dices
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle to taste
- 2 garlic cloves – skinned and minced
- 1 – 4 1/2 oz (130 g) canned chopped green chilis
- 1 – 28 oz (795 g) canned peeled whole plum tomatoes – coarsely puréed in a food processor
- 1 1/4 cups tomato juice
- 6 cups cooked pinto beans
- reserved cooking liquid from the beans (only if needed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoons Tequila
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 recipes quinoa
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 6 scallions – trimmed and cut crosswise in 1/8″ slices
- Step 1: Heat a small heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and cook until they turn deep golden and are fragrant — about 2 minutes — shaking the pan constantly and taking care not to burn the spices. Transfer to a mortar and grind until coarsely ground.
- Step 2: Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions have softened and begun to caramelize, stirring from time to time. Add the roasted seeds, chili powder, chipotle, garlic and green chilis and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the puréed tomatoes and tomato juice, mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Add the beans and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat again, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the chili has thickened, stirring from time to time to prevent it from sticking to the pan. (If chili gets too thick, thin with a little reserved cooking water from the beans.)
- Step 3: When the chili is ready, remove from heat. Add the salt, Tequila and cilantro and stir well (taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary). Spoon the quinoa in large bowls. Top with the chili. Garnish with a little sour cream and scallions. Serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: To double the recipe, double all the ingredients and cooking times, except for the last stage. Once the beans are added to the chili/tomato base, add 5 minutes to the cooking time or cook the beans for 25 minutes.