Bean Bomb Chili

I’m trying to make a more vegetable-laden chili than the traditional recipe.  Normally, a lot of the mass of chili is meat and masa harina.  Masa harina is hominy flour- cornmeal made from corn kernels soaked in lye (nixtamalization).

Yeah, I know that sounds gross.  It’s actually a good thing.  The caustic solution dissolves the hard pericarp (shell) of the kernel and also liberates nutrients like niacin that are not biologically available to humans otherwise.  If you’ve ever seen really intensely blue “natural” corn chips, the color is a sign that the corn has been nixtamalized.  Certain varieties of cornmeal turn from slate-colored to bright blue in the presence of alkalis.

Anyway, enough about indigenous American maize preparation.

Chili con carne traditionally consists of tough cuts of meat braised in a spicy broth and thickened with masa harina.  That’s it.  So when some Texan tells you that “Chili ain’t got beans!” he’s technically correct.  Heck, it doesn’t really have vegetables at all.

But, since I’m trying to increase my vegetable intake and decrease my meat intake (decrease, not eliminate!), tackling chili seemed pretty logical.  My recipe uses a base of diced tomatoes thickened with fat-free refried beans instead of broth and masa.  I figure that this will amp up the veggie count.

I’m using chipotle salsa as my primary heat infuser because I’m dealing with some folks that like their chili on the mild side.  If you like yours on the hot side, perhaps dicing in a can of chipotles in adobo sauce might make more sense.  The paprika, being a chili pepper, but VERY mild, plays the supporting chili pepper role.  Feel free to leave it out or to use crushed ancho or arbol chilis if you are amping up the heat.

Bean Bomb Chili


  • Saucepan
  • Mixing Bowl (medium)
  • Crock Pot or Slow Cooker (5qt. minimum)


  • 1lb. Stew Beef (cubed)
  • 1 large Onion (diced)
  • 1 red Bell Pepper (diced)
  • 1 green Bell Pepper (diced)
  • Spices:
    • 1/4 cup Cumin (ground)
    • 3tbsp Salsita Chipotle Salsa Picante
    • 1tbsp Oregano (dried, crushed)
    • 1tsp Thyme (dried, crushed)
    • 1tbsp Garlic (minced)
    • 1tbsp smoked Paprika (ground)
    • 1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
    • 1tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 2- 24oz. cans of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1- 29oz. can of Pinto Beans
  • 1- 29oz. can of Kidney Beans
  • 1- 16oz. can of Refried Beans (fat-free)


Brown beef in the saucepan and remove to the mixing bowl.  Add all of the spices to the mixing bowl and stir to coat the beef.  Sauté onions until lightly browned and a bit transparent.  Add to mixing bowl and stir.  Sauté bell peppers until strongly colored with a slight bit of browning.  Add to mixing bowl and stir.  Refrigerating this mixture overnight will improve flavor melding.

Add tomatoes and refried beans to crock pot.  Add whole beans to crock pot.  Add meat mixture last.  Cook on high for 4 hours and serve.

If you have time, you could refrigerate the chili overnight after cooking but before heating and serving.  This should improve the texture of the meat and allow the flavors to meld further.