Kimchi Chili

There are as many chili recipe disputes as there are chili recipes, if not more. I’m adding to the chili controversy with this recipe by not just using kimchi, but including two kinds: Napa cabbage kimchi and daikon radish kimchi. The heat in this chili is subtle and warm, and the kimchi add their own tanginess rounding out the flavors. Who knew kimchi would lend itself so well to this American classic?

1 pound dry pinto beans
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 pound Italian sweet sausage, casing removed
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder (or a blend of chili peppers you normally use)
1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chili pepper)
1 1/2 cups Napa cabbage kimchi (xref p000), chopped and divided
1 1/2 cups daikon kimchi (Kkattuggi xref p000)
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
Sour cream, for serving
Chopped scallions, for serving

1. Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with enough water so that there is 2 inches of water above the beans and let soak overnight. In the morning, drain the beans and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add half the beef, reduce the heat to medium high, and cook until the beef browns, about 5 minutes. If you find that you need to break the beef into 3 batches, go ahead. Better to you’re your time and getting your meat properly browned than steaming it. Steamed meat doesn’t taste very good. Season with salt and black pepper, remove from the pan, and set aside. Repeat with the remaining beef.

3. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sausage meat to the Dutch oven. Using a wooden spoon, break up the meat and cook until the sausage is browned, about 4 minutes.

4. Add the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and pepper to the sausage, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the chili powder and gochugaru, and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Return the beef to the pot, and add the 2 1/2 cups of kimchi (both kinds, if using two kinds – up to you how you divide the proportions), tomatoes, 2 1/2 cups of water, beans, and bay leaves. Stir to combine, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer about until the beans are soft 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid, taste and adjust seasonings, and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, until thickened. Add remaining 1/2 cup kimchi during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Ladle into bowls (the chili will resemble a thick soup) and top with generous dollops of sour cream. Garnish with chopped scallions and serve.

Serves: 4 to 6

© 2018 Olga Massov