A lot of chili recipes tend toward darker flavor enhancers — expresso coffee or chocolate, or both, for a mole twist. This one takes a different approach with the addition of orange juice and it makes for a lighter, brighter chili — great as a summer chili, but also a delicious at this time of the year when citrus is abundant. This is vegetarian, but shredded chicken would certainly work well in it if you’re looking for a bit more protein. Have fun with this recipe — add sweet potatoes in the winter, and in the summer, liven it up with fresh chopped tomatoes, corn and crisp zucchini.
4 C dried black beans
2½ quarts (10 cups) water
2-3 fresh sprigs oregano, or 1 T dried
3 bay leaves
6 small or 3 large sage leaves
1 t salt
4 T olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 chopped peppers – bell pepper, Anaheim, or jalapeño (your choice, depending on taste for heat), seeds, stems and ribs discarded
6 cloves crushed garlic
2 T chili powder
1-2 t puréed chipotle in adobo, chipotle Tabasco, or chipotle powder (to taste)
1 T cumin, (crushed whole toasted cumin seed is best, if possible)
1 C orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 T rice wine vinegar
salt to taste
Rinse and sort the beans, discarding any stones or shriveled beans. You can soak the beans overnight in cold water (cover with several inches of water) OR pour enough boiling water over them to cover by a few inches and soak them for an hour OR skip the pre-soaking step. Soaking will speed up the cooking process. Add beans to a large pot with water. Add oregano, bay leaves, sage and salt. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. The time will vary depending on how large, dry, or old your beans are, and if you have pre-soaked them, from anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.
While the beans are cooking, sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until soft. Add chili powder, chili purée, cumin, and garlic. Sauté until spices are fragrant. Remove from heat. When the beans are cooked, fish out and discard the bay leaves, stems of oregano, and sage leaves from the pot. Remove, but reserve, extra cooking liquid until there is about ½ inch of liquid above beans. Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another hour or so until thickened. Add reserved liquid if needed. Add half of the orange juice, and simmer. Adjust chili heat at this point – you may or may not want to add more of your chili paste. Just before serving, add remaining orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar. Salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with corn tortillas, and/or rice, and garnishes.