I start this chili with dried red kidney beans.  I prefer making them from scratch that way I can add as much spice and heat as we like!  Plus it’s cheaper and much easier to store in the pantry!

To make the chili beans ...

I use 1 cup of dried red kidney beans.  Sort through the beans for any dirt, pebbles, broken beans or foreign objects.  Rinse well and then place in a large bowl and cover with water - at least 2 inches above the beans.  Cover and set aside to soak for 4 - 8 hours.  You could “quick soak” the beans - click here for more info.

Once the beans have been soaking for at least 4 hours, drain the beans and rinse.

Place the soaked, dried beans into the pot of a pressure cooker and add 2 tablespoons of your favorite chili spices and flavorings.  I also add 1 bay leaf.  I shy away from anything acidic, like tomatoes at this point.  You could add large pieces of onion, jalapeño, etc., if you like.  I say large pieces that way you can remove them easily from the cooked beans as they will turn to mush and you’ll discard.

Then add water to cover the beans by 2 - 3 inches.  I use 10 cups of water.  Then do not stir and drizzle 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over the liquid and place the lid of the pressure cooker on and lock into place.

Turn the heat of the burner up to high and wait for HIGH pressure to be achieved.  Once the pot reaches pressure, lower the burner to a low heat setting, like medium-low, in order to maintain pressure - and then immediately set a timer for 15 minutes. 

Once 15 minutes is up - turn the burner off and re-set the timer for 5 minutes and allow the pressure to begin to release naturally.  Once the 5 minutes is up, quick release any remaining pressure.

Then remove the lid from the pressure cooker by carefully tilting it away from you.

Then taste for doneness ... keeping in mind these beans will be pressure cooked again with the full chili ingredients.  These beans come out perfectly for me every time - but you may need to adjust for your situation.  If you’re unsure, you can undercook and continue to cook if they aren’t done yet.

Then drain and rinse the beans and you should have about 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups of cooked red kidney beans that now are your chili beans.

You can make the beans up to a couple days in advance - or make and place in the freezer for when you’re ready to make chili!  These would be delicious in any sort of queso or nacho dip recipe too!

Now time for the chili ...

Here’s the ingredients:

  1. -2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups chili beans (recipe above) - or use canned beans, rinsed and drained of your choice

  2. -1 lb ground beef, cooked in 1 tablespoon bacon drippings

  3. -1 large white onion, diced

  4. -1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced (usually sold near the jalapeños)

  5. -2 tablespoons minced garlic

  6. -1 teaspoon kosher salt

  7. -2 cans diced tomatoes with chilies ... I like Rotel’s Chili Fixin’s brand

  8. -4 oz tomato juice

  9. -2 12oz beer of choice (if you don’t want to use beer, you could use tomato sauce)

  10. -1 teaspoon beef base

  11. -1 teaspoon vegetable base

  12. -1 tablespoon tomato paste

  13. -3 tablespoons chili powder

  14. -1 teaspoon oregano (Mexican if you can find)

  15. -1 teaspoon ground cumin

  16. -1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

  17. -1/4 cup masa harina

  18. -1/2 cup water

It may seem like a lot of ingredients - but this recipe comes together very, very quickly!  In fact, we made this on Thanksgiving morning to eat as lunch while watching the Detroit Lions football game!

So here’s how it goes together ...

We cook our ground beef right in the pot of the pressure cooker on medium to medium-high heat - and then drain off the excess fat.  We like to cook the beef in 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings, but that’s completely optional!

Then to the pot with the drained, cooked beef (over medium to medium-high heat), we add our diced poblano pepper and diced onion.  We allow the vegetables to soften briefly.  To the beef and vegetables, we add the minced garlic and salt.

While the garlic is softening, we add in the diced tomatoes and chilies (with their juice), the tomato juice and the beer.

Then we add in the chili beans (kidney beans).

Next we add in the beef base, vegetable base, tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, cumin and the optional cayenne pepper.  I always add the cayenne.

Then we place the lid on the pressure cooker and lock it into place and turn the burner to HIGH, and wait for the HIGH pressure to be reached.

Once the pressure cooker reaches HIGH pressure, we immediately turn the burner down to the lowest possible heat level that will maintain pressure; medium-low for us.

Then we set a timer for 8 minutes (yes, only 8 minutes) ... love the pressure cooker!

Once the 8 minutes are up, we carefully remove the pressure cooker from the hot burner and allow the pressure to release naturally.  This may take several minutes - just be patient - it’s worth it!

Once the pressure has dropped, carefully unlock the lid and tilt it away from you as you remove it.

Stir the chili and taste for seasoning and texture.

I like to add in the slurry of 1/4 cup of masa harina mixed with 1/2 cup water to the uncovered, cooked chili - allow this to heat through until it thickens.  You could add more masa/water slurry if you like really thick chili.

And when the chili is cool enough to handle, go ahead and place in bowls and top with chili fixin’s of your choice!

And for leftovers ... may I highly recommend trying the Cheesy Chili Mac - Baked Casserole - another one of Eric’s favorites.

If you have more leftovers than you plan to eat in the next couple of days - go ahead and place in freezer-safe plastic zipper bags.  I usually use 2 1/2 cup portions.  Lay the bags flat and try to remove as much air as possible.  When cool, place the bags flat in the freezer.  Once frozen you can stack in order to save room!

Hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving ... and maybe next year the Detroit Lions will win on Thanksgiving!