First, the idea: Turn a pot of creamy down-home Louisiana red beans spiked with beer and Latin spices into a meaty porkalicious chili. Just think about it. This unique Cajun recipe solves the debate on whether to add beans to your chili; the beans are the star of this bowl o’ red.
There’s much to like about this cross-cultural Cajun recipe, especially when the weather turns cool and football season is in full swing. Tailgating, drinking beer, eating tasty food, and hanging out with friends and family are a South Louisiana pastime, and this chili hits on all cylinders. It’s hearty fare with meaty chunks of Cajun pork alongside flavor-filled red beans soaking up the south-of-the-border infusion of aromatics and spices. And a heavy dose of full-bodied beer adds richness to the pot.
My friend Karlos Knott, brewmaster at Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, Louisiana, just introduced a new product that I’m featuring here—Ragin’ Cajuns Ale. Named for the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns football team, this is the first officially licensed college beer. This German-style ale is made with Louisiana rice, barley, and hops to combine for a balanced taste that works perfectly in this pot.
This Ragin’ Cajun Red Bean Chili recipe is sure to be all the rage this football season, so fire up the bean pot and warm up to a bowl this weekend.
- 1 package (16 ounces) dried red kidney beans
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced purple onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon diced fresh jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 bottles (12 ounces each) full-bodied beer, such as Bayou Teche Brewing Ragin’ Cajuns Ale
- 1 tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 can (10 ounces) mild diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
- 2 cups tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with 1 tablespoon sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup diced green onion tops
- 4 cups cooked long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- Soak the beans overnight by placing the red beans into a container and fill with enough water to cover. The next morning drain the beans and reserve.
- In a black iron pot with a heavy lid over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings along with the onions, celery, garlic, and diced jalapeno; cook until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the soaked red beans to the pot along with the beer and 2 cups of water to cover. Bring the heat to high until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 1 hour until the beans are tender. Pour the beans and all the liquid into a container and reserve.
- In the same pot wiped clean over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings along with the pork and sauté. With the back of your spoon, break up the meat into chunks. Continue cooking until browned, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the meat and drippings in the pot and continue stirring until the raw flour taste cooks out, about 5 minutes.
- Add the beans and all the liquid to the pot along with the Cajun seasoning, chili powder, cumin powder, diced tomatoes with green chiles, tomato puree and paste, and chipotle with adobo sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and stir. Check the level of the liquid and add more water so that the liquid comes above the top of the beans; cover the pot and cook for another 30 minutes.
- Uncover and taste to see that the beans have absorbed the spice and are fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper, and add the chopped cilantro. Cover the pot and continue to simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the stovetop, and place on a large cutting board for serving family style.
- For serving, a traditional rural Cajun way of eating chili, especially red bean chili, is to serve it over white rice. Ladle the chili over rice into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of diced green onion tops. Serve with ice-cold beer and crackers.
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