Easy Dinner: Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Crust

January 20, 2014

Discover the rich flavors of Mexican cuisine in this bold slow cooker chili recipe from author Lynn Alley. She says you could almost call this a bean mole, since it combines many of the ingredients found in a typical mole poblano: chile powder and cocoa. Top this hearty meal with a cornbread crust and garnish it with lots of cheese, sliced olives, green onions and freshly chopped cilantro.

Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Crust
Courtesy of 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley. Authorization to print courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Serves 6-8

1 pound (2 cups) dried black beans
6 cups water
6 allspice berries
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
¼ teaspoon aniseed
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup diced green bell pepper
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 to 2 tablespoons chile powder
¼ cup cocoa powder
Cornbread crust:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream or nonfat yogurt
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
½ cup sliced black olives
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse the beans thoroughly and place them, along with the water, in a 7-quart slow cooker.

In a spice mill or mortar and pestle, grind the allspice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and aniseed. Add the spices, along with the tomatoes, onion, garlic, bell peppers, oregano, chile powder, and cocoa powder to the beans. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, until the beans are tender. Turn the slow cooker up to HIGH.

To make the crust, in a food processor, pulse the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, and buttermilk and pulse until the liquid ingredients are thoroughly mixed in with the dry.

Spread the cornbread mixture over the top of the chili, or drop large spoonfuls around the surface of the chili, and continue cooking on HIGH with the lid slightly ajar for 1 hour longer, or until a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of scallions, olives, and cilantro.

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