Chili Beans

These are chili beans,  not chili, because 1) chili doesn’t have beans in it  2) chili doesn’t have ground meat in it; the meat should be chopped.   My mother said.  The emphasis in this dish should be on the beans.   Beans flavored with ground meat, ham hock and Mexican spices.

When I was growing up, chili beans was one of our family’s favorite meals. My mother grew up in Brazos county, Texas and was very comfortable with Mexican cuisine and spices.  We ate Mexican food at least once a week including homemade enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chile rellanos, chili and chili beans.  The beans were served with warm flour tortillas.   Mmm boy!

I recommend that you get good spices. (Mine, of course, are in the garage).   Penzey’s, served us well overseas and unless you live in an area with a good Mexican grocery store (El Paso brand will serve but is not authentic), I suggest you try Penzey’s on line shop.  They have other great spices too.  In addition, you could also go all pioneer and grind your spices fresh.  Not necessary but I’ve done this for Indian food and it makes quite a difference!

Penzey’s also has a catalog with fantastic pictures and recipes.   I’ve made some of the recipes at my husband’s urging.  Tangent.

The beans I found here are not pinto beans.   I really don’t know what kind they are but there was something written in Spanish on the package.   The French writing said pink coco beans.  Shrug.   They worked but didn’t taste like pinto beans; more of a large navy bean taste, in a good way.

I have probably never make chili beans the same way twice but I always include onion, bell pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder and garlic.

My spicesOnions, garlic and red pepperHerbs and spices addedGround meatI found a piece of smoked pork called jambonneau that sort of resembles a ham hock.
Chili Beans

2 cups of pinto beans, soaked overnight.   Reserve water.

1 lb of ground beef

1 small smoked ham hock

2 onions, finely chopped

4 large pieces of garlic, finely chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

2 tbsp of olive oil

1 or 2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp Emeril’s essence (

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

A pinch or two cayenne pepper(optional)

1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Saute the garlic, red pepper and onion in the oil until the onion is soft.  Add the herbs and spices and cook for 1 minute.   Add the ground beef and cook until all pink is gone.  Pour in the can of tomatoes and add salt and pepper.   Add the beans with the reserved water and ham hock.  Bring to a boil, then lower flame and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. You could also cook this in a slow cooker but watching it simmer brings back good memories for me.

Beverage suggestion:   Pabst long neck


Pinto Beans on Foodista

About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
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3 Responses to Chili Beans

  1. Brian says:

    Hey that looks really good! Can you make a chilli insert? The real kind? I want to make some. And how do you make the difference between mild, medium and HOT when adding the spices? Can you use scotch bonnets?

  2. Brian says:

    Oh yeah… can you find a way to add bacon to it? Thanks!

  3. Yes, you can use scotch bonnets. For mild, I would use a half of a scotch bonnet with the seeds taken out. For medium, I would use a whole scotch bonnet with the seeds taken out. For hot, 1 1/2 scotch bonnet with seeds in.

    Fry the bacon until it starts to brown, then add your onions and garlic in the same pan to soften.

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