When I mentioned this on twitter, a few people reacted with a "ew, coffee? in chili?" type of response. Just like how sometimes chocolate is a secret ingredient in Mexican food, so too is coffee. I promise, you don't even notice it. It makes the chili have a stronger, deeper flavor but not in a coffee-like way. This was very simple but was really good. I enjoyed it. I would keep the recipe around, though I don't know if I'll make it again. I saved some in tupperware so we'll have to see how it does tomorrow. If it passes the lunchbox test, it may turn out to be a make-again after all!
Ancho-Coffee Red Bean Chili
Recipe loosely adapted from "Red Bean Chili with Ancho Chiles and Coffee" from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop, p. 368. Measurements are approximate.
This chili always brings me nice memories of our trip to Alaska last year. I made a double batch the week before we drove up and froze it in two-serving portions to pack along for a couple of dinners around the campfire at night. It was such a warm and comforting meal, and even though everything seems to taste good when you're camping and you're cold, damp and hungry, I can assure you this chili tastes just as good when we're in the comfort of our cozy home - and it's even tastier leftover.
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups of diced canned tomatoes, including the juice
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo, or to taste (optional)
2 1/2 cups cooked red beans, drained
Handful of chopped, fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until softened and lightly browned. Stir in garlic, chile and cumin and cook one minute. Add the tomatoes, coffee, water, bay leaf, chipotle (if using) and beans. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the lid and simmer chili to desired thickness. Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in cilantro.
Yield: 3-4 servings