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January 9, 2011

4 Pepper 4 Bean Chili

Chef’s Notes: A lot of experiments led to this chili recipe that, in my opinion, is just about perfect. Often, chili is either all about heat with little flavor, or it is bland and tastes like tomato soup with hamburger. And having nothing but kidney beans leads to a boring mouthfeel.

In this recipe, four different types of peppers add a depth and complexity of both flavor and heat, and four different types of beans create a unique shape and texture experience. (I purchased the dried peppers from Penzeys.)

One notable missing ingredient is chili powder. Because chili powder is a blend of peppers, cumin, oregano, and garlic, I just added these ingredients to the recipe instead.

Four Pepper Four Bean Chili
(8 servings)

1 48-oz can tomato juice
4 roasted tomatoes (see note below)
1 14-oz jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1 dried ancho chili pepper
2 dried cascabel chili pepper
2 dried guajillo chili peppers
1 C. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic
1 T. cumin
2 tsp. brown mustard seed
2 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 tsp. Mrs. Dash extra spicy seasoning blend
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne red pepper powder

Soak dried peppers in hot water until soft, about 10 minutes, then cut into chunks. Sauté onions in small skillet with a bit of oil. Mince garlic cloves, sprinkle with a small amount of salt, and then mash them into a paste using the flat side of knife.

Combine all ingredients in 4-quart crock pot. Cook on low 3 – 4 hours. Remove the dried peppers. Taste. If you’d like it spicer, add 2 – 4 T. hot sauce.

1# ground beef (or turkey, chicken, or venison)
1/2 C. chopped onion
1 T. worchestershire sauce
3/4 C. canned red kidney beans
3/4 C. canned black beans
3/4 C. canned Great Northern beans
3/4 C. canned butter beans

Brown ground beef with onion and worchestershire sauce. Drain and rinse beans. Add beef and beans to crock pot.. Cook on warm (or low) for 1 hour.

Additional notes
I roast fresh garden tomatoes in the summer and freeze them. Alternately, you could probably use a can of roasted whole tomatoes.

You will have about 2 1/2 cups leftover beans; place the combined beans in a quart bag, freeze, and use in the next batch of chili.


  1. Just found your chili recipe. Very interesting with the 4 peppers. I'm going to cook it this weekend.


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