© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <email@example.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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Recipe from: Greens, San Francisco, CA
2 cups dry black turtle beans
1 bay leaf
4 teaspoons cumin Seed
4 teaspoons oregano
4 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 negro or ancho chile, or chili powder
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 yellow onions, ¼ inch dice
4 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ pounds canned tomatoes with liquid, chopped
1 tablespoon rice wine vineger
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 poblano or ancho chiles, roasted, peeled and diced
½ cup muenster cheese, grated
½ cup crème fraiche, or sour cream
Sort through the beans and remove any small stones. Rinse them well, cover them generously with water, and let them soak overnight.
Next day, drain the beans, cover them with fresh water by a couple of inches and bring them to a boil with the bay leaf. Lower the heat and let the beans simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Heat a small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, and when they begin to color, add the oregano leaves, shaking the pan frequently so the herbs don't scorch. As soon as the fragrance is strong and robust, remove the pan from the heat and add the paprika and the cayenne. Give everything a quick stir; then remove from the pan — the paprika and the cayenne only need a few seconds to toast. Grind in a mortar or a spice mill to make a coarse powder. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
To make the chili powder, put the dried chile in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes to dry it out. Cool it briefly; then remove the stem, seeds and veins. Tear the pod into small pieces and grind it into a powder in a blender or a spice mill.
Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions over medium heat until they soften. Add the garlic, salt and the ground herbs and chili powder and cook another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Simmer everything together for 15 minutes then add this mixture to the beans, and, if necessary, enough water so the beans are covered by at least 1 inch. Continue cooking the beans slowly until they are soft, an hour or longer, or pressure cook them for 30 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.
Keep an eye on the water level and add more, if needed, to keep the beans amply covered. When the beans are cooked, taste them and season to taste with the vinegar, additional salt if needed, and the chopped cilantro. Prepare the garnishes. If you are using fresh green chiles, roast them over a flame until they are evenly charred. Let them steam 10 minutes in a bowl covered with a dish; then scrape off the skins, discard the seeds, and dice.
Serve the chili ladled over a large spoonful of grated cheese and garnish it with the crème fraîche or sour cream, the green chilies and a sprig of fresh cilantro. Though served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon, this chili is a great deal thicker than most soups — thick enough in fact to be served on a plate right alongside fritters or cornbread. It also, however, can be thinned considerably with stock, water or tomato juice to make a thinner but still very flavorful black bean soup. When thinned to make a soup, it can be served as part of a meal rather than a meal in itself.