Slow Cooker: Black Bean Chili

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Photo by Ben Pieper
This is not your ordinary chili but reflects the rich combinations of ingredients found in real Mexican cuisine.

Ahhh . . . I love this stuff. This is not your ordinary chili but reflects the rich combinations of ingredients found in real Mexican cuisine. You might even think of it as a bean mole, since it combines many of the spices and ingredients, including both chile powder and cocoa powder, usually found in mole poblano. It has flavor, and I love it with or without the cornbread crust. It’s best sprinkled with lots of cheese, sliced black olives, scallions and cilantro. MAKES 6 to 8 SERVINGS OF SLOW COOKER BLACK BEAN CHILI.

• 1 pound (2 cups) dried black beans
• 6 cups water
• 6 allspice berries
• 1 stick cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon cumin seed
• 1 teaspoon coriander seed
• 1/4 teaspoon aniseed 
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
• 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
• 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
• 1 to 2 tablespoons chile powder
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Cornbread crust:
• 1 cup cornmeal
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 cup buttermilk

• 1/2 cup sour cream or nonfat yogurt
• 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
• 1/2 cup sliced black olives
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Rinse beans thoroughly and place them, along with water, in 7-quart slow cooker.

2. In a spice mill or mortar, grind allspice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and aniseed. Add spices, along with tomatoes, onion, garlic, bell peppers, oregano, chile powder and cocoa powder to beans. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until beans are tender. Turn slow cooker to high.

3. To make crust: In a food processor, pulse cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add eggs, vegetable oil and buttermilk, and pulse until liquid ingredients are thoroughly mixed in with dry.

4. Spread cornbread mixture over top of the chili, or drop large spoonfuls around the surface of chili, and continue cooking on high with lid slightly ajar for 1 hour longer, or until a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean.

5. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of scallions, olives and cilantro.

Lynn Alley is a writer who lives in Southern California. This recipe is excerpted from her new book, 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011).

Click here for the main article, 3 Super-Easy Slow Cooker Soup Recipes.

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