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Dried beans in chili- just soak or cook before adding?

I usually use canned beans in my chili but want to try dried. I know that I should soak them overnight, but do I need to cook before adding or do they cook in the chili?

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  1. Dried beans take a while longer than the chili to cook so cook them first then add

    1. Simmer beans with onion, garlic & jalapeƱos til tender. Cook chili til almost done. Add beans.
      I cannot imagine adding dried beans to not quite cooked chili..-)

      1. Acid prevents beans from tenderizing - even pre-soaked ones. If you add beans to tomato before they are cooked, they will never soften.

        2 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          I thought that about tomatoes too, Grey, until I made a recipe from Jamie's Italy (Jamie Oliver) in which he uses both tomato and potato to prepare dried beans.

          Here is part is my review...
          "I soaked the beans all day long instead of over night. In the evening, the beans were drained, placed into a large pot and covered with fresh water. A peeled potato and squashed tomato (I quartered one large one) are added. JO says these will soften the bean skin. Add a 1/2 bulb of garlic, a bunch of herbs (rosemary, bay, thyme basil - tied). Do not add salt at this point. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. The beans are drained of all but 1/2 cup of liquid. Dress with that liquid, EVOO, a little bit of vinegar, and S & P." And further along, "The beans had a wonderful flavor from the herbs and, I think, the tomato as well."

          I have not repeated the recipe but I should to see if I was right about the flavor, etc. the first time around.

          1. re: Gio

            All I know is that I once soaked and cooked kidney beans in water till perhaps 3/4 done, then added canned tomato, stock, and other vegetable soup ingredients. This was before I knew about beans and acid. I cooked it and cooked it and cooked it - must have been at least 4 more hours. Beans never got any softer. Perhaps the difference is the relatively small volume of tomato in Oliver's recipe, or maybe some alchemy involving the potato's role.

        2. Another vote for cooking them beforehand. Just till tender - be careful not to overcook them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bacardi1

            You have to cook them first or they will never get tender. Depending on who I am serving I often cook and then serve on the side along with other toppings. Not everyone loves beans in their chili.

            Ok I meant to reply to OP. Oops!

          2. As others have said, cook the beans first, then add to chili. I actually make the beans in a pressure cooker the day before and chill them overnight after cooking. I retain the bean liquid because as, someone on this forum kindly informed me, the stuff can take down the heat in an over spiced batch of chili. A lot of the people I cook for do not like hot foods.

            I make the meat chili the night before as well. I mix the chilled, firmed beans together with the meat mixture in a final pot, and adjust the seasonings as the mixture heats up. A slow cooker set on high is ideal for this.

            I prefer pinto beans for my chili, but you can certainly use any bean you fancy.

            Have fun!

            3 Replies
            1. re: sueatmo

              Yeah I also cook the dried beans by themselves. I don't bother soaking them first anymore. Just dump them in a big pot of cold water. No salt. Bring to a slow rolling boil then cook them until they are soft but not falling about. Then I add them to the chili and I also save the bean water to adjust the chili for heat and consistency. Red kidney and white navy beans.
              Try these ingredients for a 'special' flavor: Anchovy paste/molasses/black olives/butter butter/clam juice (just a couple of drops)/V8 juice instead of canned tomatoes/any precooked poultry cut into cubes and added just before serving.

              1. re: Puffin3

                Id definitely add salt. It seasons the beans and contrary to what some say it does not inhibit softening.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Yes to salt. But I like to have a little less than usual if I am serving with corn chips, which I usually am. (I am unable to fully partake in even my own chili, and I would lay off the corn chips now because of carb concerns. But I can't stay away from beans, and so I eat them in this dish, but I keep the canned tomatoes as ingredients to a minimum, and leave the corn chips to others. Sigh.) I like the ideas for further flavoring chili. You can make chili any number of ways.

            2. Not only do the beans cook in the chili but they add their flavor and a quality of texture to the chili. Plus, this interesting benefit: it turns out that homemade chili is a superior source of Potassium since the tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, and also the bean "juice" are all ace sources of Potassium (ref USDA Nutrients Database, online). Just allow a little more time for cooking the chili (an hour to an hour-and-a-half instead of the 20 minutes you need if using canned beans) and be sure to keep your liquid level where you want it by adding extra water if needed, and give a stir now and then so the chili doesn't stick. I see many posts saying to cook beans first, but my vote is to cook them in the chili. Have never found them too hard to eat with pleasure.

              1. I used to soak them overnight in the fridge until I read that this allows the yeasts in the beans to grow. Now I simmer the dry beans in water for about an hour, then let them sit overnight in the hot water, then rinse before adding. Unlike the overnight method, I've never had a gas problem with simmered/rinsed beans.

                1. I made the mistake of trying to cook soaked dried beans right in the chili when I was a newlywed. Hours later they were still crunchy. To this day, 27 years later, if I buy a can of beans my husband will say "Huh! Who knew they came already cooked in cans!" But actually now I typically cook beans from dried in my pressure cooker and then add them to chili and other things.

                  1. Puffin, great new idea to not soak--I usually use canned because the process for dried is such a pain. I also like the texture of canned better, so need to know what I'm doing wring because the skins always break open.