Lamb & White Bean Chili
Updated: Jan 29
Autumn is upon us, which means it’s open season for soups! What is better to start than a warming and spicy bowl of homemade chili? We at the FTT Test Kitchen whipped up this out-of-the-box chili because there’s so much more than just seasoned beef and beans to a great bowl for dinner or lunch. Plus the leftovers are the best part!
The base of flavor comes from the ground lamb, lending it’s exquisite and rich aroma without being as heavy as traditional beef. The lamb fat will render out when cooking, helping flavor the onion, garlic, peppers, and every other part of the final dish. It is important to cook using high heat to develop browning on the ground meat, as well as developing beautiful brown bits on the bottom of the pan, called fond, to bring even more flavor later along in cooking.
When possible, try to source your meats from local growers. Luckily, in New England, there’s great access to locally raised meat, including lamb! Check online for your area and always support your local farmers.
We were lucky enough to have some poblano peppers and jalapeno peppers leftover from the last harvest in the garden to use in this recipe. It is amazing to be able to grow your food and use it in a delicious dish! The poblanos were surprisingly packed with heat, as they are a mixed bag when it comes to spice level. Knowing this, we opted to seed them like the jalapeno, but this is optional if you like the searing heat in your chili.
Another building block of flavor that made this dish stand out was the use of cilantro stems as an aromatic component. Normal fresh cilantro leaves are bright and peppery, but when cooked down with other flavors it gets lost in the mix and turns a sad brown color. The cilantro stems carry the bright flavor and aroma of the cilantro, without getting muddled or turning to mush.
Using finely chopped herb stems in soups or sauces is a great technique to boost the flavor of whatever you’re cooking, and it’s a way to not waste any of the ingredients! And don’t worry, there will plenty of use for the cilantro leaves to top the chili once it’s done. The Forge To Table Nakiri Vegetable knife will make quick work of all of these herbs and vegetables!
Traditional chili utilizes a small number of spices, producing a one-dimensional end product. By using a variety of amped-up spices including chili powder, cumin, and coriander, there’s plenty of flavor to go around! The spices are toasted in lamb fat before simmering with the rest of the aromatics, so you know it will be a powerhouse.
If you have a chili powder from who-knows-when hiding in the back of your spice cabinet, it may be best to simply pick up some fresh stuff. Your chili and your taste buds will appreciate it! Seasoning with extra kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper at the end of cooking helps make sure everything is balanced just right.
The beans we used in the chili were creamy cannellini beans, but you could use any variety of white beans including navy beans, chickpeas, or butterbeans. They add great texture and color against the red chili.
The recommended garnishes include goat/sheep yogurt, sliced red onion, cilantro, and lime wedges, but these are completely customizable! The goat/sheep yogurt can be found in some grocery stores and brings a welcomed creamy texture and tang to the spicy stew. Cilantro and fresh red onion help brighten the deep spice flavors. The lime helps balance the richness of the lamb to bring it all together! Try it with cornbread, coleslaw, or whatever you like.
Something about chili has always meant flavors of Fall and this recipe fully captures the fall vibes. Built with layers of flavorful ingredients, it naturally blends Mediterranean and Northern Mexican flavors producing an end product you need to taste to believe! Happy cooking.
Lamb & White Bean Chili
This warming chili has an amazing depth of flavor thanks to the abundance of fresh vegetables and aromatic spices. Cook it a day ahead so that the flavors can blend, if you can resist eating it all the day of!
Recipe by Sam Burgess
Forge To Table Knives
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped (~2 cups)
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced (or 2 small green bell peppers)
¾ cup cilantro stems, cleaned, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (~2 tablespoons)
2 small jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
4 tablespoons chile powder, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 ½ cups cooked white beans, rinsed (2, 14 oz cans)
Sheep/goat yogurt, for serving (plain yogurt if unavailable)
Thinly sliced red onion, for serving
Cilantro leaves, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
(BROWN THE LAMB) Heat the oil in a soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground lamb and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon or spatula, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Reserve cooked meat in a bowl.
(COOK AROMATICS) Add the finely chopped onion and poblano peppers. Cook until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add finely chopped cilantro stems, garlic, and jalapeño and cook until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the chile powder, coriander, and cumin, and cook 1 minute.
(SLOW COOK TO PERFECTION) Return the lamb to the pot. Stir in 4 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer for 35 minutes. Add beans and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
(FINISH THE DISH) Taste and adjust seasonings with extra kosher salt, black pepper, or chili powder. Ladle into bowls, and top with a dollop of yogurt, thinly sliced red onion, cilantro leaves, and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy immediately!
If the chili becomes too thick, add more water or chicken broth. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
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