Pinto Bean and Beef Chili

To turn this into a vegetarian chili, simply eliminate the meat. Do not, however, omit the oil; it is needed to subdue the foam created as the beans cook under pressure. Serve this chili over rice or with cornbread or biscuits.

Plus: More Beef Recipes and Tips

  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 cups pinto beans—picked over, rinsed and soaked overnight in water to cover, or speed-soaked (see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound trimmed boneless beef chuck or shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

How to make this recipe

  1. Drain the pinto beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the pressure cooker. Add half of the cubed meat and cook over moderately high heat until well browned all over; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining meat and another tablespoon of the oil. Set the meat aside.

  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the cooker, along with the onion, red and green bell peppers, garlic, jalapeños and cumin seeds. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, about 2 minutes; scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the cooker. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cinnamon and bay leaves, then add the drained pinto beans, the reserved browned meat and the boiling water.

  3. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally; do not quick-release, or the meat will toughen. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape.

  4. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir the tomato paste into the chili and season with salt and black pepper, then simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. If the chili seems too soupy, set it aside for a few hours at room temperature. Alternatively, puree about a cupful of the beans and stir them back in. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.


15 minutes under high pressure, plus 10 to 15 minutes natural pressure release.

Contributed By Published April 1996

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