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I love to cook. But that doesn’t mean I like to use many different pots and pans when I cook. My favorite recipes are one pot meals and, lately, anything that involves the Instapot. This year, the recipe I’ve been making again and again is Chile. The twist I’ve introduced with the Instapot is starting with dried beans. You won’t even believe how much better beans taste if you cook them yourself vs. what comes out of a can.

If you’re thinking, forget it: dried beans take way too long to cook. I’m here to tell you this recipe takes about an hour of ‘active time’ on your part and then an hour of simmering time that hardly involves you at all. I decided to make this recipe the other day at 5pm. I didn’t have time to soak the beans ahead of time. The beans cooked in the Instapot while I chopped and sautéed everything else. I started at 5pm and we sat down to eat at 7:30.

Here are all the ingredients (except for the spices):

Choose any 3 dried beans you want. I like to use black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas (because I love chickpeas.) This time I substituted Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye beans for black beans. Measure out half a cup each of the dried beans and combine them in a large bowl. You want 1½ cups of dried beans. Rinse the beans with water and pick out anything that looks like it doesn’t belong. (When we are sorting grapes at harvest, we get rid of MOG – matter other than grapes. In this case, you’re getting rid of MOB – matter other than beans.) If you have time to soak the beans in water for a few hours, great. If you don’t, no big.

Put the rinsed beans in the Instapot with plenty of water. You want the water level to clear the beans by about 3 inches. Use the pressure cooker lid and select the beans setting and increase the cooking time to 15 minutes. Make sure the pressure cooker vent is closed, turn on the Instapot and let the magic happen. Once cooking has ended, don’t vent the pressure cooker until you are ready to add the beans to your Chile. The last time I made this recipe, the beans stayed on the ‘keep warm’ setting with the pressure cooker vent closed for 22 minutes past the end of the cooking cycle before I was ready to add them to the chile.

Another twist I like to introduce to this recipe is to substitute meatless meat, like Beyond Meat, for ground beef. I have a husband who considers beans a vegetable and two teenage boys who love nothing more than a trip to In and Out. None of them have ever noticed when the meat in my Chile is not beef.

While the beans are cooking, chop 2 onions, 2 jalapeño peppers, 6-10 cloves of garlic, and dice half a package of bacon. You can combine the jalapeños and the garlic, but keep the onions and bacon separate.

It’s usually at this point that I open the bottle of Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon I will be serving with dinner. If it’s a weekend, I will probably open a Laurel Glen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. If it’s a weeknight, the Cabernet will probably be Laurel Glen Counterpoint, as we’ll feel less guilty if we don’t finish the bottle (as if!) I last made this recipe on a Saturday night and I decided to serve a 2015 Laurel Glen Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which I opened and poured into a decanter about 2 hours before dinner (minus the glass I sipped while chopping . . . quality control!)
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is golden and starting to crisp, about 10 minutes.

Remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cook the onion and 1 pd. ground meat or meatless meat in the bacon fat using a large fork to mash the meat as it browns, so that you end up with an even crumble.

Once the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes, add the japaleño and garlic, cook and stir for a minute or so and then add a 12 oz bottle of dark beer, Guinness or Negro Modelo or whatever looks good to you.

Its time to add the beans. Vent the lid and open the Instapot. Taste a bean to make sure they are cooked. It’s ok if they are still a little firm as they will have another hour of cooking time in the chile. If they are too firm for your liking, put the lid back on, close the vent and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
If you have to cook the beans longer, turn the heat under your dutch oven to low until you’re ready to add the beans.

When the beans are cooked, drain them in a colander and add them to your Chile along with the bacon, a 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes, 1½ cups of water or beef broth, 6 tablespoons chile powder, 2 tablespoons cumin and several shakes of black pepper. Let the pot simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

When you’re done cooking, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the Chile in bowls and pass around sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro and/or green onions as garnish. Don’t forget the Laurel Glen Cabernet!

Chile (for the Soul) Recipe

1 ½ cups dried beans (½ cup of 3 different kinds of beans)
1 pd ground beef or ‘Beyond Meat’
½ package bacon (about 8 slices), diced
2 onions, diced
6-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1 – 28 oz can diced or pureed tomatoes
1 – 12 oz bottle dark beer, such as Guinness
1 ½ cups water or beef broth
6 tablespoons chile powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper

Rinse the beans. Ideally the beans should soak in cold water to cover for a few hours before cooking, but the recipe will turn out fine even without soaking the beans. Cook the beans in a pressure cooker or Instapot on the beans setting for 15 minutes with the vent closed. After cooking is done, leave the beans with the vent closed until ready to add to the chile.

Cook bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat until starting to crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.

In the bacon fat, cook the onions and ground meat/meatless meat until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Add the jalapeño and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add the beer and stir until the foam subsides.

Open the pressure cooker lid and taste the beans. They should be slightly firm. If too firm, put the lid back on, close the vent and cook for another 4 minutes.

Drain the beans in a colander and add to the dutch oven along with the canned tomatoes, 1 ½ cups of water or beef broth, bacon and the spices.

Turn the heat down and let the chile simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning to your liking before serving.

Serve in bowls and garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese and either chopped cilantro or green onions.