I love beans. Refried, pureed into a dip, in salads, and especially with rice – it’s tasty and satisfying in any preparation, whether front and center or hidden in the shadows. There was a pound of dried red chili beans hangin’ in our cupboard (they look similar to red kidney beans, but were marked as “red chili beans” at Whole Foods), so I decided to cook up a very simple chili beans and rice dish inspired by a recipe found on one of my favorite food blogs, Simply Recipes.
I slow-cooked this dish in my little crockpot, which I really should utilize more – it is perfect for minimizing kitchen heat in the summer, and is THE easiest way to make homemade chicken stock (more on that in a future post, possibly). I understand that crockpots are supposed to be perfectly safe for unattended cooking, but I’m still paranoid that it will explode if I even set one foot out the door. I did end up prying myself away from the house for a few hours (can’t pass up Family Free Day at Kidspace!), and I am happy to report that it was an explosion-free afternoon – whew!
I customized the original recipe to suit my tastes, and also to use up what I had in my kitchen inventory. First, I sauteed some diced pancetta (pork fat good) in a bit of olive oil with diced onions, garlic powder (ran out of the real stuff) and a dash of salt and pepper before adding ground turkey (dark meat, please). After tossing the cooked meat mixture into the crockpot, I added the following: a 28-ounce can of Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes, for a bit of smokiness; a small can of mild green chiles, chopped; probably 3-4 tablespoons of chili powder; a few shakes of sugar; and about 3-4 cups of cooked red chili beans (don’t forget to precook the beans! Or you can use canned, of course). The whole lot was stirred together and crock’d on high for two hours, then low for four. I served the chili beans over cooked long grain white rice (the rice cooker is also an awesome appliance) with lots of fresh cilantro leaves and a squirt of lime juice. Oh, and if you’re into the fire-in-your-belly feeling, throw many many slices of super-hot pickled jalapenos on there as well. Yowza. Mmmmm.