From Chef JJ Johnson


This recipe appears in Chef Johnson’s cookbook Between Harlem and Heaven.

Recipe Yields: 4-6

A note from chef Johnson:

Fans of the great Charlie Parker know that great chili is synonymous with the birth of bebop. It was during a 1939 jam session at Dan Wall’s Chili House in Harlem that Parker hit the upper chord improvisation that many credit as the lightning bolt moment that became bebop. In honor of Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, we make our chili with chicken. It’s a great game-day meal for a crowd, but it also works great as a family meal. Making and storing the chili a day in advance gives the flavors a chance to meld and blend together to develop a more complex quality.

    Spicy Black Beans Ingredients:

    • 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 cup diced red onion
    • Kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup diced celery
    • 1/2 cup diced carrots
    • 2 bird’s-eye chiles, seeded and minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 cup canned chipotles in adobo, chopped, with their sauce (about 1/2 of a 7 ounce can)
    • 6 cups oxtail braising liquid, beef broth, or water
    • freshly ground black pepper

    Spicy Black Beans instructions:

    1. Put the black beans in a 2-quart container and fill the container with water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain the beans, discarding the water.
    2. In a 6-quart stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to simmer, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic just becomes aromatic. Follow with the onion and 1/2 tablespoon salt to bring out the flavors and liquid from the vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and chiles and cook for 3 additional minutes.
    3. Stir in the cumin and cook for 1 minute, then add the chipotles and their sauce and cook to heat through. Add the soaked black beans and the oxtail braising liquid.
    4. Lower the heat to medium and let the liquid come to a lazy simmer. Cover and let simmer and reduce for about 1 hour. Uncover the pot and use a wooden spoon to smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. Stir the smashed beans into the stew to make it extra creamy. Simmer, uncovered, for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the beans are very tender but not falling apart.
    5. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

    Chili ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
    • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
    • 2 red bell peppers, diced
    • 1 poblano pepper, diced
    • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 2 cups spicy black beans (or 1 [15 ounce] can black beans, rinsed and drained)
    • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

      Chili instructions:

      1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven and add the onion when the oil begins to simmer. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and sauté for about 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, bell peppers, and poblano and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
      2. Once the vegetables are soft, add the chicken and spread it out in an even layer on the bottom of the pot. Stir to crumble the chicken as it cooks.
      3. Once the chicken begins to turn opaque, after about 3 minutes, add the spices, herbs, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir to coat and toast the spices and cook for about 3 minutes.
      4. Stir in the black beans and remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and cover the pot. Simmer the chili to let the flavors meld and the sauce thicken, about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn.
      5. Season to taste. Let cool and store in an airtight nonreactive container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, if you’re not serving it immediately.