Braden Family Cookbook

Chuck Braden

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LAMB AND WHITE BEAN CHILI              Food & wine 

(Six servings) 

1 cup dried white beans (about pound), such as Great Northern or navy, picked over and rinsed
4 oz. smoked slab bacon
4 dried large New Mexico red chiles
1 large chipotle chile (for mild to moderate, 2 for hot!)
3 TBSP. Olive oil
1 pounds trimmed boneless lamb shoulder cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP. ground cumin
2 TSP. Coarsely chopped fresh thyme( 1 if dried)
1 TSP. Coarsely chopped fresh oregano (1/2 if dried)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 six oz. can tomato paste
2 TBSP. sugar
3 bay leaves
Steamed rice for serving

1.  Place the white beans and bacon in a medium saucepan and add 6 cups of water.  Bring to a boil over moderate heat and boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.

2.  In a medium bowl, soak the New Mexico and CHIPOTLE chiles in 3 cups of hot water until softened, about 20 minutes.  Pour off the soaking liquid (RESERVING ONE CUP OF IT!).  Stem and seed the chiles and transfer them to a food processor or blender with the reserved one cup of soaking liquid.  Puree until smooth.  Pass the puree through a fine strainer into a small bowl.

3.  Heat the olive oil in a large heavy Dutch oven or casserole.  Season the lamb with salt and black pepper.  Add some of the meat and brown all over, about 5 minutes.  Do the same to the rest of the meat.

4.  Add the onion and garlic to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally , until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the cumin, thyme and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

5.  Return the lamb to the pan.  Add the pureed chiles, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaves and 3/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil over moderately high heat.  Lower the heat, partially cover and simmer gently until the meat is very tender, about 1 hours.  Discard the bay leaves. 

6.  Meanwhile, drain the beans and bacon.  Return them to the pan, add 6 more cups of water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.  Lower the heat, partially cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour; drain.  Coarsely chop the bacon and add it to the chili with the beans.  Season to taste with salt.  Serve over rice.

Good Zinfandel or a quality ale goes well with this.