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Looking for Suggestions

March 19, 2013

By: Emily J. Click

 This week I knew I wanted to make chili. The weather was calling for rain and I love a comforting pot of soup on a rainy day. Oddly enough, it was warm and sunny on Saturday and cold and snowy on Sunday. I already had Twin Maples Farm sausage and Mil-Ton Farms ground beef in the freezer, along with Shagbark Organic Black Turtle Beans in the pantry. I picked these items up a couple weeks ago on various shopping trips.

Shagbark Black Beans

I found the following recipe, which I adapted, that incorporated both black beans and sausage, on Pinterest, originally featured on A Taste of Home’s website:

Black Bean Sausage Chili


  • 1 pound bulk ground sausage (I used ½ pound of ground beef and ½ pound of bulk sausage)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained (I used about 1 cup of dried black beans)

  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

  • 1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

  • (I also added a jar of vino de milo roasted garlic medium salsa)

  • (I also added ½ can of tomato juice)

  • 1/2 cup water (I continued to add lots of water as I cooked the chili)

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (I used 5 and 20 Alpines salad dressing mix instead)

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I used 5 and 20 Alpines salad dressing mix instead)

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • Shredded cheddar cheese, optional


Vino de Milo Roasted Garlic


In a large saucepan, cook ground meat and garlic over medium heat until the sausage (and ground beef) is no longer pink. Add green pepper and onion. Cook and stir until onion is tender; drain. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce and paste, water, chili powder, oregano, salt, basil and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. (I cooked my chili for hours.) Garnish with cheese if desired.

Black bean chili

Here’s my confession: I had never made dried black beans, or any dried bean, for that matter, from scratch. Therefore, I was once again venturing into unchartered cooking territory. If you will recall, about a month ago, I tried a turnip, and to my surprise, I liked it.

While I didn’t hit it out of the park on my first attempt at making black beans, I think I know where I made my mistake. You see, the beans never got to that really soft consistency. I followed the directions on the back of the Shagbark black beans, i.e., I soaked the beans the night before. However, what I didn’t do was cook the black beans separately, according to the directions. Instead, I put the soaked black beans right into chili. According to my internet research, post cooking, sometimes the acidity in tomato juice can prevent beans from getting soft. On a positive note, the chili has a really intense tomato flavor with a nice, spicy after-kick. Oh yeah, I also added jalapenos, a couple tablespoons of Fish Hawk Acres Ramp Hot Sauce, and a few Whippersnapper Farms banana peppers.

Perhaps some of you fellow Rampers have suggestions for cooking dried beans.

Emily is a wife, mother, and attorney, living on the banks of the Ohio.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2013 7:59 pm

    I definitely ran into problems getting beans to soften when I moved to Utah. Apparently altitude is one factor (though I doubt that’s your problem). I’ve heard other things like how soft or hard your water is has an influence. Also if the beans are too old (doubt that’s the case, coming from Wild Ramp). I think you already put your finger on it by not cooking them long enough to soften in water.

    A pressure cooker might help, or I’ve used a slow cooker for chickpeas to make hummus. I don’t know how that would work for the more challenging beans, but it might be worth a try.

  2. stkappleto permalink*
    March 20, 2013 11:18 am

    I find most recipes that call for beans are expecting you to use canned beans which are already cooked. When using dry beans, I normally go ahead and boil the beans a little, and add them hot to the soup mixture so they get done. If I’m planning to simmer the soup for a long time, I may skip that step.

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