When the weather cools off, a hearty meal of chili and cornbread can warm your insides while filling you up. Vegetarian chili, white chili, meat chili or Southwest chili -- all chili recipes made with beans round out a recipe and give your dish the right texture. A proper selection of beans can give the right color, texture and flavor to any batch of chili. Go with a few favorites or choose a couple of lesser known varieties to mix up in your most-loved chili recipe.
Common Chili Beans
In red chilies, red and brown beans such as light and dark-red kidney beans add protein and thick texture when simmered with tomato sauce, beef and spices. White chili commonly benefits from paler beans like the white navy bean or cannellini bean. Other types of common beans used for chili include the pinto bean, black beans or red Mexican beans. All these types blend well together in a batch of chili or work well alone combined with other chili ingredients.
Colorful Chili Beans
Get away from the plain and same by using colorful, variegated beans to dress up the visual impact of your chili. The Spanish Tolosana bean is an heirloom variety that has a striped white and brown appearance. Also known as the butterscotch calypso bean, this variety can increase the color of a red or white chili. Mottled rattlesnake or cranberry beans have a speckled appearance and pack a punch with their color and flavor. Use these with the traditional types of chili beans to improve your chili.
Small Chili Beans
While they may be small, they don't lack in flavor or nutrition. The Native American tepary bean, while small, cooks nicely in chilies, stews and soups. Additionally consider the flageolet bean which is white or pale green-colored, with a smooth, soft texture. Other small beans that work well in chili include the red and black azuki bean. Both have a mellow sweet flavor that can cut down the heat in spicy chilies.
Large Chili Beans
The large, mottled Christmas bean with a black and ivory skin gives chili a nutty flavor and offers a striking appearance. Also large and mottled, but lacking the chestnut flavor that the Christmas bean contains, is the Jackson wonder bean and the European soldier bean. These beans hold their shape during long cook times and have firm texture. Put fava beans in a vegetarian chili to beef up the protein and hearty texture or add the sweet and splotchy-colored trout bean to punch up a dull chili recipe.
- Cook's Thesaurus: Dry Beans
- "Chili Madness: A Passionate Cookbook"; Jane Butel; 2008
- Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images
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