While the flavors required to make an amazing chili are complex, the recipe itself only has one simple rule. If you don’t cry while making it or sweat while eating it, you’re doing it wrong! This quinoa and coffee chili does both. Oh, and you’ll be surprised to find out that it is vegan.
½ pound dried beans (mix of black, navy, red and pinto) 2 tablespoons salt 5 dried ancho chiles 2 dried New Mexico chiles 2 dried guajilo chiles 2 dried chipotle chiles 3 dried chiles de arbol 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 yellow onion, chopped 1 shallot, minced 2 ribs celery, sliced 5 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 tablespoon ground coriander 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon brown sugar 28 ounces diced tomatoes, fire roasted 1 tablespoon tomato paste 5 cups water ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee, Philz’s Aromatic Arabic Blend 7 allspice berries 4 whole cloves 1 star anise ½ cup quinoa
15 hours, 20 minutes
First thing first, you will need to soak your beans, and you will need to do it overnight. There are many quick-soak methods out there for preparing beans and they all kinda suck. Want the best beans ever? Here is what you do: rinse the beans very well, then place them in a large mixing bowl with enough water to cover by double their volume. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and let them soak for at least 12 hours.
NOTE: Here's what happening: sodium ions from the brine (the salted water) replace calcium and magnesium ions in the bean's skin. These molecules along with the pectin in the skin create tightly bound cells. When replaced with sodium, the pectin weakens, creating a softer texture. This softer skin also reduces the number of exploding beans during cooking.
Now ya gotta make that chile sauce. I suggest doing this ahead of time, like when you start on the beans. It's not complicated or anything, but then when you are in the throes of making the actual chili, it is one less thing to do. You'll thank me later or be cursing my name if you don't.
Add the chiles to a small frying pan and toast them on each side over a medium-high heat until the chiles begin to puff up. Add 2 cups of the water that when pressed back down, the chiles are covered. Bring the water to a boil then remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes, until chiles fully soften.
Transfer the chiles to a food processor along with ¼ cup of the liquid and puree, adding more as needed. Strain the remaining liquid and reserve it.
It's the next day, you've hopefully gotten some rest and are ready to tackle the rest of this. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot and warm it over a medium heat. Add in the chopped yellow onion and shallot and cook until the onions have softened and just begun to brown. Add the 2 celery ribs, cooking for about a minute and then add in the 5 cloves of minced garlic, cooking for another minute.
Add the 28-ounce can of tomatoes, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, ground cumin, tomato paste and brown sugar to the pot. Cook for a minute, combining the spices and sugar.
Strain and fully rinse the beans. Add them to the tomato mixture along with 1 teaspoon of salt and the remaining 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until beans are tender, about 2 hours. This could take longer depending on the age of your beans.
NOTE: NOTE: As with most soup, stew and chili recipes, water quantity is a rough guide. You may need more as the beans and quinoa start absorbing it.
Here's where you're gonna get tricky. This is what's going to make this chili hella better than any other chili you've had. See, chili is not about any individual flavor...it's about balancing everything you throw in the pot to create a rich, deeply textured (yet nuanced) experienced. Chili should never be one note...it's a symphony. So let's begin by adding in the chile puree and the chile-infused liquid.
Now, let's whip out that bass guitar by adding in ½ teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon of finely ground coffee. You can use whatever brand you like; I used my favorite, Philz Coffee. I picked their Aromatic Arabic blend for its woodsy, earthy and smoky tones.
Now we are going to tie it all together. In a small frying pan, toast 7 allspice berries, 4 cloves, and 1 star anise over a medium heat for about a minute. Toasting whole spices heats up the volatile flavor compounds, creating new, more complex aromas. Most recipes will have you grind up your spices but I prefer working with whole spices for their complexity and the control you have over flavor. After you toast them, add them to a spice pouch and toss them into the chili.
When there's about 30 minutes left of cooking the beans, toss in the ½ cup of quinoa, adding more water if needed. Cook until the quinoa is tender and the beans are fully cooked, with the lid still slightly ajar.
Now, everything is done, sorta. You have created one hella complex chili here, and the quickest way to ruin it is to salt it now. Chili is always best the next day, once the flavors fully get a chance to play together. So I would let it cool, pop it in the fridge and then taste it. You will probably use the 2 remaining teaspoons of salt to flavor it (or maybe you won't).Enjoy with shredded cheese, chopped red onion, sour cream, chopped cilantro and avocado.
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Jerry James Stone
Food pornographer, full-time vegetarian, pointy beard enthusiast, and I say 'hella' too much. Founder and creator of Cooking Stoned.