Like many American foods, recipes for chili vary significantly by region. Irrespective of the style you’re accustomed to eating, chili is universally considered a comforting and substantial dish that’s suited for colder months. As we move deep into autumn, I’ve developed this tasty recipe for chunky lamb and black bean chili that’s sure to satisfy your family or a crowd.
Growing up in New York my Mom would make a tomato heavy chili with ground beef and beans. We’d garnish it with sour cream, cheese and onions, sometimes eating it served over rice. While it’s the chili of my childhood, I’ve found that depending on the recipe, the tomato flavor can be too assertive.
After moving to Ohio, it took some time to adjust to Cincinnati-style chili. Chili from this midwestern town is lighter on the tomatoes and spices vary significantly with the addition of cinnamon, allspice and cloves. It’s typically served over spaghetti with any combination of beans, onions and cheese. I would describe it as an acquired taste that I eventually craved, but Mrs B & B never learned to appreciate it.
Then I moved to Texas. Chili here is a whole different ball game. Chile con carne often referred to as Texas red, is a meat-heavy stew made with whole dried chiles that lend a deep red color and give this dish it’s nickname. Meat is coarsely ground or cut into chunks. The addition of beans to authentic Texas red might result in shunning by friends and family.
I crafted this chunky lamb and black bean chili using inspiration from the chili I grew up eating and Texas red. It has chunks of lamb, black beans and chiles from the Southwest but also a heavy dose of tomatoes like the chili of my childhood. Building layers of flavors by browning the meat, concentrating tomato paste and using fire-roasted tomatoes results in a richer, more flavorful chili. Smoked paprika lends a hint of smokiness. Serve it with your favorite condiments but at the B & B home we like the addition of sour cream, cheese and green onions. The flavors will improve after a few days in the fridge but the aroma that fills your home will make it difficult to resist as soon as it’s done. Enjoy!
Chunky Lamb and Black Bean Chili
- 3 Tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 pounds leg of lamb cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2 cups diced onions (about 2 medium onions)
- 1 cup diced red pepper (about 1 whole pepper)
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 Tablespoons chili powder (I used equal parts of Ancho and New Mexico chile powder, but if these aren’t available use standard store bought brands like McCormick)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- One 28 ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- One 14 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 1½ cups chicken broth
- Two 14 ounce cans black beans
- Sour cream
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Chopped green or red onion
- In a 6 quart dutch oven or heavy pot heat 2 Tablespoons of oil over high heat. Season the lamb with salt. Once the oil begins to smoke and the pot is very hot, brown the lamb in two or three batches making sure not to overcrowd the pan. It is not necessary to brown the meat on each side as it will dry out. Focus on getting a good sear on a few sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon transfer the meat to a bowl. Turn down the burner to medium heat and add the wine, scraping up any browned bits and reducing the wine by half. Pour the wine into the bowl with the lamb. Rinse the pot with water.
- In the same pot, heat the remaining Tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers, cooking until softened but not browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic cooking another 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant. Push the vegetable mixture to the side of the pan and add the tomato paste to the exposed portion of the pot. Cook stirring the paste until it becomes a dark red color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chili pepper and mix all the ingredients in the pot cooking another minute to toast the chili powder. Add the remaining spices, tomatoes, chicken broth and lamb. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 60 to 90 minutes until the lamb is tender.
- Once the lamb is tender, taste the chili for seasoning and add additional salt to taste. Add the black beans to the pot and stir cooking a few additional minutes until the beans are warmed through.