Cast Iron

Smoky Bean Chili (With Prunes!)

December  8, 2017
1 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
Author Notes

The way I see it, there’s no reason to make a small batch of chili. This yield is generous—about 1 1/2 quarts—and it freezes perfectly. You could even double it! Consider it a weekend project, which will pat you on the back for weeks to come. I used prunes because they were what I had on hand. Feel free to play around, say with raisins or apricots; just make sure they have no added sugar. I also think there’s no reason to make a small batch of chile paste. The yield here is roughly three times what you’ll need. Freeze the extra in ice cube trays for an on-call flavor boost. (Alternatively, just divide the chile paste recipe by three!)

Note: You can make your own chile paste (below), or use any pre-made or store-bought brand you have.

Featured In: How A Quick Fix for Too-Spicy Chili Turned Into My #1 ChiliEmma Laperruque

What You'll Need
  • Chile Paste
  • 1 ounce dried New Mexico chilies
  • 1/2 ounce dried Guajillo chlilies
  • 2 cups water
  • Chili
  • Canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell peppers, any color, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or Microplaned
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 ounces dark beer
  • 1/2 cup chili paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes and their juices
  • 2 chipotles, minced
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans mixed beans (think pinto, kidney, black, and garbanzo), drained
  • 12 prunes (about 3 ounces), plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  1. Make the chili paste. Use a scissor to snip the stems off the chilies. Shake their seeds into the trash. Set a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the chilies. Cook until toasty and fragrant—stirring every so often—about 5 minutes. Add the liquid and simmer for about 20 minutes until the chilies are soft. Add the chilies and liquid to a food processor and puree until smooth. (You can make this in advance! Either refrigerate or freeze. If you’re making the chili right away, no need to clean the food processor; you’ll be using it again.)
  2. Onto the chili! Set a large pot over medium-high heat, then add a thin film of canola oil. Add the onions and peppers and season generously with salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften—about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cumin and stir-fry until fragrant and toasty—about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the beer, stir, and cook for a few minutes. Add the chili paste, tomatoes and their juices, chipotles, and beans. Stir and let that simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the prunes and 6 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Simmer until the fruit is plump and soft. Add to a food processor and puree into a paste. Stir into the chili.
  5. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, until the flavors have mingled. Just before serving, add the vinegar, soy sauce, and Worcestershire. Season with salt to taste. Serve with cornbread, rice, or a stack of warm, flour tortillas.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kimberly Hanrahan-Havern
    Kimberly Hanrahan-Havern
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • Meagan
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

4 Reviews

Kimberly H. January 11, 2018
Can this recipe be doubled effectively? It looks absolutely amazing to make!!
Emma L. January 11, 2018
Meagan January 9, 2018
Sounds wonderful! Any way we can make this a gluten free chilli? Ideas for substituting the beer, soy, and Worcestershire?
Emma L. January 9, 2018
Thanks, Meagan! You could substitute a dry hard cider (or dark coffee) for the beer. Tamari for the soy sauce. And a DIY mixture of tamari, tomato paste, and anchovy paste for the Worcestershire.