Beans are a truly versatile food. They can work well in whatever dish you want to use them in, with different kinds of beans bringing something a little different. Unless you are from Texas and see it as blasphemous – one of the most popular bean dishes is chili, hands down.
But with so many different kinds of beans out there, what kind is the best to use in your chili. Truth be told, there really is no right answer! Depending on your own taste and the type of chili you are preparing, you can use any beans you desire.
Kidney beans have been a long-standing element of countless chili recipes, but have you ever wondered why?
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Kidney beans hold up under heat
Unlike some beans, kidney beans keep their form and stay together even under extreme heat. We all know chili tastes better when it has had a chance to sit and stew together in the pot for awhile over heat. This process allows everything to cook to perfection and lets all the flavors and spices mingle together.
Throughout the process, kidney beans remain firm and refuse to become mushy or soggy. And nobody wants that in their chili. Good, firm beans add a nice texture to chili and help break up the meat, spices and veggies with a creamy finish.
The ability to keep their shape comes from the fact the kidney beans cook exceptionally evenly.
Kidney beans are hearty
When it comes to hearty dishes, they don’t come much heartier than chili. A thick base, meaty hamburger, steak or sausage – sometimes all three – and in some cases thickly chopped vegetables. Chili is a dish that sticks to your ribs and warms up the soul.
Therefore, it’s only fitting that the bean used fits the bill. Kidney beans are a particularly meaty bean and fit right in with the rest.
Kidney beans take well to other spices
Chili can be a complex dish of flavors. Cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, the list of spices and herbs that you can use in chili go on and on.
Kidney beans are ideal for chili because of their versatility. You cannot restrict or define kidney beans into one category of cuisine because it takes so well to most kind of spices and flavors. Whether your chili is mild or extra spicy, traditional or with a different twist, kidney beans adapt and taste just as good.
Of course, just because kidney beans are a traditional bean doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself. Other beans work great in regular chili as well and you can always find inventive new recipes to use different kinds of beans. Like great northern beans in Southwest White Chicken Chili, black beans in Chorizo Chili or mixed beans in Sweet Potato Chili. That’s the beauty of beans: there’s no limit what you can do with them!