Beef and Bean Chili with Pickled Onions

Are you a recipe tweaker? I'm a reformed recipe tweaker, formerly taking creative license to swap this for that, sometimes altering a recipe so much that it no longer resembled the original. I exercise more restraint these days, honoring the work that had been dedicated to develop recipes. However there are still days when I stray a bit. This recipe is one of them. Inspired by a popular recipe on one of my favorite blogs Healthy Delicious's Beef Bean Chili with Pickled Onions, I took what was an elegant chili recipe made with beef stew cubes and red wine and boomeranged it back to a more traditional and humble bowl of beans with ground beef and beer.  It would be ironic to call it creative since I may have reverted this chili back to its predecessor, but the result is quite good (as is the original) so a new recipe is born.
I am also adding Healthy Delicious's recipe for pickled onion, which is pristinely un-tweaked. While the pickled onions are an optional topping, I highly recommended it to brighten and contrast several aspects of the spices and herbs in this chili. 

Beef and Bean Chili
Inspired by Healthy Delicious
  • 2 1/2 cups dried beans (I used a variety of kidney, pinto and black), soaked overnight
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 chipotle peppers, chopped plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons adobo
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 bottle stout beer 
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons masa or cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt to taste
  1. In a medium pot, add the soaked beans and bay leaf and fill enough water to cover roughly two inches above the beans. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer until the beans are tender, roughly one and a half hours. 
  2. Once the beans are cooked, heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat brown beef. Remove beef from pan.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to pan and saute for 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the beef, chipotles and adobo, and spices. Saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in drained beans, sugar, beer, lime juice, beef broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and using a spoon to break up the tomatoes.
  5. Stir in the masa or cornmeal. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Add salt to taste.

Pickled Onions
From Healthy Delicious
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat. Store onions in the liquid until ready to use.
  2. They will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
Serve the chili topped with pickled onions and any other toppings of your choice.


    Mari said...

    Just got your update and came running to thank you. I always cook chili, but I have never added beer, I am sure it gives it a nice taste. Your chili looks delicious :)

    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

    This chili must really have a kick (a good thing in chili) with the chipotles and adobo. Love the beer in it too.

    Belinda @zomppa said...

    Love this kind of slow and steady heat. Gorgeous!

    tasteofbeirut said...

    Wonderful chili recipe the addition of cocoa must add such a depth of flavor! Love also the pickled onions!

    SKIP TO MALOU said...

    Yep recipe tweaker that's me! and im as guilty sometimes to have put my take on a dish that would result to a dish so different... (Oh NO! I'm guilty!(
    But this bowl of chili is something new... with different layers of flavors from cocoa, to beer to all the spices, I'm ready to give it a try!
    Happy Sunday Christine!

    bunkycooks said...

    I love a great bowl of chili this time of year. This has a great mix of spices, so I will have to try this recipe next time I have a chili craving!

    T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

    I've never been too confident with recipe tweaking. I guess I like to stick to "the rules" but I'm getting a bit more adventurous.

    Lauren (Healthy Delicious) said...

    You're version looks gorgeous, Christine! And you gotta love those onions - i can't eat chili without them anymore. ;)

    I'm also a recipe tweaker. It's pretty much impossible for me to follow them as written.

    Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

    I love the addition of pickled red onions!

    SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

    I'm always adding a little something extra or different to recipes to suit my fancy too.

    What a wonderful chili recipe! I love the sound of the pickled onions too.

    Amy said...

    I am a hopeless recipe tweaker (except for baking, usually). Pickled onions are such a great way to elevate a dish. I should make them more often!

    Reeni said...

    What a great pairing this is with the pickled onions! I would of never thought to eat them with chili. I'm one of those recipe changers too!

    sally said...

    Those pickled onions look like a great topping for chili and lots of other dishes. I'll have to give them a try.

    Katerina said...

    This dish is absolutely perfect for the freezing day we are having here today! I wish I had a bowl!

    Claudia said...

    This has so many flavors - the pickled onions are icing. I am going to have to do this - beer, cocoa, hot peppers... all in one pot - doesn't get any better.

    Anonymous said...

    Any pickled vegetables are welcome at my house, and I like the idea of adding to chili to perk it up a little. Plus the red onions look so purdy!

    Kim said...

    The picture of your chili is amazing.

    I love the idea of topping the chili with pickled onions instead of copious amounts of sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips, etc. I'm definitely going to make these pickled onions the next time I make chili.

    Lynda said...

    I'm a tweaker too; just can't help myself. Your chili looks and sounds delicious.

    Barbara said...

    You did some great "tweaking"! Super recipe AND hot! Perfect for cold weather. Your ingredient list is many flavors.

    Magic of Spice said...

    Beautiful combination of flavors and textures! This is a meat eaters heaven as far as comfort food, lovely recipes :)

    Much to My Delight said...

    I'm a huge recipe tweaker; I usually make the recipe as directed the first time, then adapt it usually based on what I have around the house. Can't usually beat good ol' traditional chili, but both of your versions sound seasonally sensational!

    El said...

    What a wonderful cozy meal. A perfect winter treat.

    nancy at good food matters said...

    I think we all enjoy "the tweak" it's our way of personalizing a dish, and expressing our creativity. chili has myriad wonderful variations, and I know that yours would be delicious.

    Pickled onions are such a nice addition! I like her recipe---with the bay leaf, allspice, and juniper berries.

    Trix said...

    Funny, unless it's baking I almost never follow a recipe ... almost. There are exceptions to every rule! I have recently become a huge fan of making pickled onions, what a great topping for this chili.

    City Share said...

    I will join the crowd and say that I too am a recipe tweaker. Among other things, it is so rare to have every last ingredient and spice... Love the idea of the pickled onion on the chili. Perfect meal for a cold day.

    Jann said...

    A little extra pa-zaaz in the chili! i like this addition!

    Kitchen Butterfly said...

    Love chilli. Love tweaking recipes......the mark of the greats me thinks. Have a great weekend and enjoy your growing boy!

    lostpastremembered said...

    Except for desserts, where additions and changes can make a mess, I always fiddle with a recipe. I think it's a way of making it yours, isn't it? You've done well by it. Gorgeous photo too.... and inspiring since I'm making lentil chili today!!

    lisa is cooking said...

    I think I'm a reformed recipe tweaker too. I try to stick to recipes to see what happens, but sometimes, I can't help making a change. Those pickled onions are so pretty on top of the chili!

    oysterCulture said...

    What a yummy sounding dish and perfect for these last days of winter.