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baking American
Black Bean Chili Potpie with Onion and Pepper Corn Bread Topping Recipe-3203

Photo by: Joseph DeLeo
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Black beans and tomatoes form the base for this rich vegetarian chili filling. The batter for the topping is seasoned with some of the vegetables and bakes into a crisp, firm topping. Cooking an ancho chile (a dried poblano) with the beans adds a great deal to the rich flavor. Taste chili powder to make sure that it is fresh, because over-the-hill chili powder will have no flavor at all. Although cooking the beans takes a bit of time, they really only need an occasional glance and a quick stir.



  • 1¼ cups (½ pound) dried black beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder, plus 1 tablespoon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ancho chile, dried
  • One 14½-ounce can tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • Reserved ½ cup cooked vegetables from filling, above


1. Make the filling: Wash the beans in a strainer and check for any debris or small pebbles. Put the beans in a large bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak overnight. Or, put the beans in a medium saucepan, cover them with water, and bring it to boil. Turn off the heat and let the beans sit for 1 hour. Drain the beans. Put the soaked beans in a large saucepan with water to cover them by about 2 inches. Add the bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of the oregano, the 2 teaspoons chili powder, the cumin, and ancho chile. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice and cook about 45 more minutes, or until the beans are tender. Taste a bean to check that they are done.

2. Have ready a baking dish with an 8-cup capacity. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking until the pepper is soft, about 8 minutes. Remove ½ cup of the vegetables and reserve them to add to the topping later. Stir the remaining 1 table-spoon chili powder and ½ teaspoon oregano into the vegetables in the skillet. Stir the vegetables into the beans. Remove the ancho chile and bay leaf and discard them. Remove 1 cup of the beans, put it in a food processor, and puree. Return the puree to the beans and stir them together. This thickens the chili. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the chili into the baking dish and set aside.

3. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

4. Prepare the topping: Into a large bowl, sift the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, stir the buttermilk, egg, oil, and reserved cooked vegetables together to combine them. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir slowly with a large spoon for about 20 strokes just to combine the ingredients. There will be a few small lumps. This is fine. Carefully spoon the batter over the chili in the baking dish.

5. Bake until the topping is golden brown and firm, about 35 minutes. Use a large spoon to scoop out servings of topping and filling.

© 2006 Elinor Klivans

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 12 servings, and 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving.

194kcal (10%)
93mg (9%)
18mg (30%)
28mcg RAE (1%)
18mg (6%)
515mg (21%)
1g (4%)
5g (8%)
2mg (13%)

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