Worknight Dinner Recipe: Beef & Pinto Bean Chili

by Maris Callahan on January 31, 2010

January presents somewhat of a conundrum. On one hand, it’s cold out and the weather lends to hibernation, dim light and fireplaces. The holiday season and abundance of cookies and calorie-laden treats seems long-ago but they’ve left a lasting presence on your jeans. It’s sluggishness versus the gym; comfort food versus healthy food.

Luckily, things aren’t always black and white. In life there are gray areas and things that might seem to be one way are actually another. Things that seem bad or scary can work out for the best and dreams that seem highly unlikely sometimes wind up happening. There is no cryptic analogy here, but it’s late at night and I’m feeling particularly contemplative.

And also, there’s chili.

A thick and aromatic pot of cubed beef and beans, simmering with browned onions and beer might seem like it would wreak havoc on your diet. In actuality, each protein-packed serving has less than 400 calories.

I skipped the radishes and avocados that the recipe called for and instead topped mine with a warm corn tortilla (for only fifty additional calories)

and a spoonful of fat-free sour cream. If you don’t like sour cream, try a dollop of Greek yogurt. This chili is so spicy that you’ll want something to temper your taste buds.

Beef & Pinto Bean Chili
Serves 8


Cooking spray
1 pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup minced jalapeño peppers (about 2 large)
10 garlic cloves, minced
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (I used a mild winter ale)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped (optional)
6 tablespoons small cilantro leaves (optional)
6 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
6 lime wedges (optional)


1. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeño; sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil.

2. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.

3.Add broth, tomatoes, and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

4.Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls. Divide radish and avocado evenly among bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro and 1 tablespoon sour cream. Serve with lime wedges.

I make chili a lot. If you like this recipe you might also enjoy:

Classic Turkey Chili
White Bean & Apple Chili
Every Vegetable Chili


Photo Credit: Cooking Light.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Daryl January 31, 2010 at 9:34 am

That looks very tempting and perfect for this time of year. The tortilla looks like a perfect addition to this delicious meal.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) January 31, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Yum! I love to make big batches of chili and freeze in small portions. And I’m a spicy kind of girl, so I’d skip that cool-down sour cream!


mabdy January 31, 2010 at 11:08 pm

The tortilla is something that I never would have thought of on my own. Looks incredibly tempting.


Ashley February 1, 2010 at 1:10 am

That looks great. I never eat chili these days, because my favorite canned kind (I know) isn’t available in California. It’s about time I seek out something comparable or better. If I actually make chili, it would be the biggest news ever and I would never be quiet about it. I might just have to do that.


kat February 1, 2010 at 10:26 am

We find chili just perfect for this time of year!


Cate O'Malley February 1, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Nothing like a big bowl of steaming hot chili to warm you right up – looks great, Maris!


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