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Italian Chili with Red Beans

Italian Chili with Red Beans


  • ½ pound dried borlotti beans (aka cranberry beans), soaked overnight, OR for fast chili, just use a can of red kidney beans 

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) 

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • Salt and pepper 

  • 1 jalapeño or red finger chili pepper, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped 

  • 3 ounces 'nduja

  • 1½ pounds ground beef  

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (⅓ palmful)  

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (⅓ palmful)

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (⅓ palmful)

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, ancho or Aleppo or a blend

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire

  • 2 roasted red peppers, chopped 

  • One 28-ounce can crushed or diced fire-roasted tomatoes

  • 1½ cups passata or one 14-ounce can tomato sauce

  • 1 cup beef stock 

  • Shredded  pecorino with red pepper flakes or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve  

  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve


Serves: 4

If using dry, soaked beans, cook the beans in a heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven with onion and bay in salted water for about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of your beans, until tender. 

Heat a pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, add onions and season and soften a few minutes, then add chili pepper and garlic, stir and sweat another minute or 2. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables and melt in the 'nduja. 

Add beef and spices and stir and smash to lightly brown and crumble the meat, add Worcestershire, roasted peppers, tomatoes, passata or tomato sauce, and stock. Let simmer for 10 minutes before adding beans and then simmer with beans until ready to serve. For thicker chili, puree half the beans before adding to pot. Serve and top with cheese of choice and parsley to serve.