CHILI, ESPRESSO BLACK BEAN CHILI
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
This deep, richly flavored chili has enough caffeine to keep you awake—literally. (Bear this in mind when you're serving it; use decaffeinated espresso if you or your guests are caffeine sensitive or reserve it for lunch or early dinner.) Serve this with rice, a stack of warm tortillas, or tortilla chips, some crumbled queso fresco or sour cream, and parsley or cilantro.
Other beans you can use: Earthy-flavored beans that can stand up to the other flavors—pinto, kidney, or dried soybeans—work best.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 1½ to 2 hours, largely unattended
• 3 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
• 2 onions, chopped
• 2 tablespoons minced garlic
• 3 cups chopped ripe tomato (about 1½ pounds whole; canned is fine; don't bother to drain)
• 1/2 to 1 cup freshly brewed espresso, 1 to 2 cups brewed coffee, or 2 tablespoons espresso powder
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1/4 cup dark brown sugar or 3 tablespoons molasses
• One 3-inch cinnamon stick
• 1 pound dried black beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
2. Stir in the tomato, espresso, brown sugar, cinnamon, and beans and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily but not violently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are beginning to soften, 30 to 40 minutes. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Continue cooking until the beans are tender, anywhere from another 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sugar, salt, or pepper. Serve or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Chocolate Chili. Closer to a deeply flavored Oaxacan mole: Replace the espresso with 1/2 cup chopped Mexican chocolate or 1/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate. Decrease the sugar by half if you're using the Mexican chocolate.