Bodacious Chili – East meets Southwest, Peru and Koronis Purple Beans cooked in Columbian Black Clay Pot

I love the fall season and the ingredients that come to market. Gone are the days of heirloom tomatoes, corn and fava beans. These are the days of winter squash, turnip and dried beans. My Saturday mornings are spent at one of the local farmer’s markets looking for interesting food. One of the local purveyors, Lonely Mountain Organic Farm, sells interesting dried beans. On this day he had Koronis Purple Beans. The Koronis Purple is a bush bean, a shelling bean. It was developed by Robert Lobitz and was grown for its shelling beans with deep purple seeds. They were far to pretty to pass up. I was speaking to Kevin, the farmer from Lonely Mountain that grew these beans, and he said that they had just been harvested and were so fresh they didn’t need to be soaked overnight. We thought they would work well for chili. And so I thought what kind of chili would be interesting. Let me do an east meets southwest, Peru, Koronis Purple for some bodacious fun. I was hoping that the glorious purple would remain. But alas that was not to be the case.

Gone are the days when our only choices for chili were red pepper flakes and chile powder. Cayenne, jalapeño, anchos, pasillas can be found at most grocery stores. But there are even more interesting varieties that are not mainstream and I had a couple in my pantry that I wanted to use in this chili. I opted instead for the Peruvian, Southwest dried chili powder : chimayo style chile powder (from New Mexico), amarillo chile powder (from N. Mexico), ground aji panca (from Peru) and aji amarillo (from Peru).

“Aji” means chile pepper in Spanish. I could find no English translation of panca. Aji panca is a type of chile pepper that is commonly grown in Peru. It is dark red and mild with a smokey, fruity taste.

I also used aji amarillo. “Amarillo” means yellow. Aji amarillo is often thought of as the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking. It is worth seeking out for its unique flavor, which offers a lot of fruitiness for its heat. It’s a different kind of fruitiness: less sharp and harsh, more full-bodied, and a lot more subtle and tastes like sunshine. This is a comforting hot chile, which may seem odd. Aji amarillo is used in many classic Peruvian dishes and I thought why not try it in a classic American dish “Chile”, the ultimate comfort food made with the comforting hot chile.

I have a beautiful clay bean pot that I bought at La Toque in Half Moon Bay.

lachamba

It is hand-crafted black clay La Chamba bean pot from La Chamba, Colombia and can go directly from microwave, stove or oven to the table top. There are no toxins in the La Chamba because no glazes are used and there is no lead in the clay. The black color comes from the firing process and the smooth, satiny finish is accomplished by hand-rubbing the surface with stones. La Chamba is exclusively made in a village in Columbia and the women and craftsmen who make these pots are their own bosses and set their own prices.

Cooking in clay is different than cooking in metal. The clay retains heat and moisture and there is less harsh steam in the pot, so food is able to cook in its own juices and not dry out. Beans, come out of La Chamba pots tasting earthier and with a creamier texture. I love this pot because it works beautifully on the stove as well as in my oven. I have a gas stove and it works perfectly on the flame. (no sticking at all). I have used this pot to make soups, beans and and braises and am always happy with the results. Somehow, the food I cook in this pot seems more infused with flavor. It keeps the food warm for a long time. It is my go to pot now, over my enameled cast iron pots. I love using this cookware and cooking with clay. It’s amazing, the food never sticks and cleanup is a breeze. So perfect, fusion chile made in a clay pot made in Columbia.

Ingredients

2 tbl olive oil

1 large white onion – diced

2 medium red onion – diced

2 celery stalks – fine dice

1 poblano pepper – diced

chicken stock – 3 cups

tomato sauce – homemade – 3 cups

1 1/2 tbl chimayo style chili powder

3/4 tsp amarillo chili powder (from N. Mexico)

1 1/2 tbl ground aji panca

1 1/2 tbl aji amarillo

½ bunch of fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

3 tbl cumin

2tsp alderwood smoked sea salt

cilantro – chopped

1 ¼ pounds heirloom purple kidney beans

firm tofu- 1 ½ pounds

Method

  1. Because these beans were so fresh, no soaking was required
  2. Saute onions in olive oil until softened in clay bean pot
  3. Add celery and poblano and continue to saute
  4. Add chicken stock, tomato sauce and spices (except salt) and stir to mix
  5. Add purple kidney beans and bring to a simmer
  6. Simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender
  7. Dice fresh tofu into 1 inch pieces.
  8. Add to kidney beans.
  9. Simmer for an additional 1/2 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add cilantro to finish

Enjoy!