Basic recipe for "3 Pines Christmas Eve Chili"....This combination of ingredients not only seasons your beans for chili, but the final result can be served by itself with garnishes, and is versatile enough to be used in other bean recipes.
1 pound kidney beans or pinto beans
4 dried red chiles
4 cloves garlic -- sliced thin
6 cups water
1/2 pound pork side meat (fatback or bacon)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne -- optional
1 teaspoon ground cumin -- optional
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano -- optional
Wash beans in a colander, sorting carefully discarding stones and odd materials. Rinse and place into a large Dutch oven together with the dried chiles and sliced garlic; add water and soak overnight.*
Drain beans and return to the pot. With a sharp knife, score fatty side of meat in criss-cross pattern; nestle into beans. Add bay leaves and pepper. Bring to a boil; lower heat; cover and simmer over very low heat about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt, cayenne, cumin and oregano used; cover and simmer about 1 hour longer. Discard meat, chiles and bay leaves. Beans are now ready to be used in chili, or serve as a side dish for a barbecue, or as a main dish on a cold, windy, snowy winter night with lots of hot cornbread.
* Alternative to soaking: Bring beans, chiles, garlic and water to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover tightly and let sit 2 hours without uncovering.

Copyright 2002 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved