My Friend Debbie and a Pot of Lamb and Black Bean Chili

This post is about lamb chili and my friend Debbie.

Debbie is amazing.  She is an engineer, has an MBA from the University of Chicago, teaches, paints, writes and is a Mom and wife.  In addition, she is beautiful, personable and nice. Yet, as much as our green dragons might encourage us to hate her, we all love her.

Debbie has been the inspiration for our 15-year book club, and she is the driving force behind my learning bridge, being an adjunct science instructor, writing this blog, writing a book and countless other life-enhancing experiences.  On a less important note, she also keeps me up to date on pop culture, about which I am hopelessly unaware (glee?  isn’t that happiness?  a TV show? really??).

Yesterday, Debbie had a life-altering moment.  Yet, true to form, she didn’t let it get in the way of our couples-bridge-and-chili night at her house.  She never seems to stop doing things for us.

So, I hope that when Debbie needs help in the tough times ahead that we will be able to  provide even a fraction of what she has given us.  We will certainly do our best.

So today’s chili recipe is in honor of Debbie.  She inspired me to post it by leaving me with yet another fond memory of our many evenings of shared food and friends – just as she has inspired me in so many other ways.

Lamb and Black Bean Chili 

Recipe By: A Global Garnish, LLC
Serving Size: 8-10

**Gluten-free Variation

3 New Mexico Chilis, dried
3 tablespoontablespoons olive oil
3 onions, medium, chopped
4 garlic, cloves, minced
1 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 1/2 lbs. Lamb, ground
1 1/2 teaspoon Marjoram
4 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper, black
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
45 ounces tomatoes, canned, diced, with juice
6 ounces Tomato paste
12 ounces stout, or other dark beer
30 ounces black beans, canned
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
8 limes
1 cup sour cream


1. Remove stems and seeds from dried New Mexico chilis.  You may need to break the peppers into pieces in order to remove seeds.   Heat a dry, heavy fry pan, and toast the seeded chills.  Toast the peppers, turning them with tongs to avoid burning. When you get a good strong aroma from the chilis, place in a heat-proof bowl.  Pour 1 cup boiling water over chilis and set aside.

Dried New Mexico Chili (right), Seeded (left)

2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and sweat about 6-8 minutes.  Add minced garlic and jalepeno.  Stir a few minutes more.  Transfer onion mixture to a bowl. 

3. Add ground lamb to the same pan using medium to high heat.  Stir and break up lamb until cooked through.  Return onion mixture to pan.   Add marjoram, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, and oregano. 

4. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste and dark beer (stout).  Bring to a simmer.

5. Remove New Mexico peppers from the soaking bowl and place in a food processor or blender.  Add 1/2 cup soaking liquid to the processor and blend.  Add the blended New Mexico chili puree to the pot with lamb/vegetables.   Taste the remaining soaking liquid.  If it is not bitter from the chills, add it to the pot as well. If it is bitter, discard.  Simmer chili for an additional 30 minutes to blend flavors.

If you are using chunks of lamb instead of mince or coarse grind, taste the lamb at this point to be sure meat is tender.  Cook longer if needed.

6. Drain and rinse black beans.  Add beans to the chili. Taste for salt and peppers and adjust spices if needed.   Simmer an additional 20 minutes, skimming if necessary.  

7. To serve, place chili in bowls.  I like to serve chili over a bit of rice, but pasta or fresh bread also go nicely.  Slice limes into 8 wedges each.  Squeeze one wedge over chili in each bowl and garnish with an additional lime wedge.  Top with a dollop of sour cream.  

Lamb and Black Bean Chili Served with Lime and Sour Cream Garnish


New Mexico chills are the dried red chills (about 5-6 inches long) that you sometimes see tied in decorative strings when traveling the southwest U.S. or in Mexico. While New Mexico chills are common, there are many other varieties of dried chills (Capsicum frutescens) such as:

  • ancho
  • quajillo
  • pasilla
  • cascabel
  • chipotle (smoked)

Each of these varieties have a unique flavor and degree of heat (which will also vary within a given variety).  Dried chilis can be found in bags in many grocery stores (Hispanic section) or in specialty stores and keep for up to a year in dried form.

All peppers (dried and fresh) contain capsaicin, the ingredient in peppers that produces the heat we taste and irritation to touch (and also produces the sting in pepper sprays). When working with chili’s, you may want to wear gloves to protect your skin from possible irritation and avoid breathing dust when grinding dried chills.  Also, be careful not to touch your eyes when working with chilis.

Dried chills are first seeded and stemmed and then toasted.  Once toasted:

  • Cool and then grind peppers to make a chili powder.
  • Soak for an hour in boiling water and puree. Add puree to sauces or freeze in small containers for use later.


Replace the beer in this recipe with:

1) equal quantity of a medium-to-light bodied red wine or

2) 1/2 water and 1/2 freshly-brewed coffee

4 thoughts on “My Friend Debbie and a Pot of Lamb and Black Bean Chili

  1. Now don’t make me cry! How did I get such wonderful friends? Speaking of pop culture – why are you posting instead of watching the Oscars? Deb

  2. Pingback: Carnitas Tacos – with a Trio of Dried Chilis | A GLOBAL GARNISH

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