Bushwick Cooks: This Black Bean Chili Costs $15 to Make and Feeds You for a Week

Frank Davis

Contributing Writer

I love home cooking and believe there are quite a few people in Bushwick like me. 

To get things rolling, I am offering up my Black Bean Chili. I am a major chili freak. If I was thrown into an episode of “Chopped,” I’d likely end up making a chili regardless of the secret ingredients.

This particular recipe dates back to when I was broke during my college years, and it holds a special place in my cookbook as my first original recipe. It has gone through many revisions over the years. It started out as more of a spicy vegetable stew before becoming a proper chili.

I have been cooking some version of this chili for over 30 years. I made a batch of this for my engagement party. A couple decades later, I served a revised version at my anniversary party. When my wife and I opened a small BBQ joint in upstate NY, this was one of our few vegan-vegetarian options.

This recipe has been a large part of both my personal and professional life. I cook this chili far more often than any other dish in my cookbook — mostly because it is inexpensive, healthy, and quick; but also because of my history and love of it.

My recipe makes a fairly large batch, so it’s great if you’re cooking for two people or need to make a few days worth of meals in one go. At first, it’s a bowl of chili with warmed tortillas; the next night, you can add some corn and cheese and roll it up into burritos; finally, reheat the last of the leftovers, spoon it over tortilla chips, add cheese and jalapenos (or whatever else you like), and bake for quick nachos.

I buy my ingredients at three stores in Bushwick. The Fine Fare at 1305 Myrtle Ave. is my usual stop when I just want to get my shopping done quickly. Their produce section is comparable in price and freshness to most of the area stores and canned goods are reasonable.

If I’m looking to specifically stock up on canned goods, nothing in the area beats Food Bazaar, either the Wyckoff or Myrtle Avenue locations. Bring a cart or a friend, as they offer some great multiple-can sale pricing and you’ll need the help carrying all the goodies. Food Bazaar also has a large produce section, though it tends to be a bit pricey.

When it comes to my favorite produce market in Bushwick, there is only one choice: Angel’s Fruit Market at 272 Knickerbocker Ave. It has fresh produce, a killer selection of chiles and spices, solid prices, and a great staff. No one does produce better in Bushwick.

Ingredients for a recent batch of my Black Bean Chili came to a total of $15.78, or about $2.00 per serving. I bought the black beans, tomatoes, vegetable stock, chipotle, and tortillas at Fine Fare. The vegetables and spices came from Angel’s Fruit Market.

Black Bean Chili

Makes 6-8 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes


2 15oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 TBS olive oil

1 sweet onion, medium dice

2 red pepper, medium dice

2 poblano, medium dice

2 jalapeno, de-seeded and medium dice

4 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp cumin

¼ tsp cayenne

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp Mexican oregano

2 chipotle chiles, minced

1 tsp adobo sauce from chipotle chile

28oz can crushed tomato

10oz can Ro-tel tomatoes & chiles

2 cup vegetable stock

 In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and peppers and saute until tender crisp, about six minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the chipotle, adobo, and spices, and cook one minute until fragrant. Add the black beans, stir to combine, and cook one minute.

 Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at least 20 minutes. The longer it simmers, the better it gets.

This chili is great straight out of the pot, but even better the next day. Serve with warmed tortillas. You could also top with sour cream, cheddar, scallions, or whatever else your heart desires.

If you have a story to tell and an affordable recipe to share, please contact Bushwick Daily Food & Drink Editor Andrew Tobia at [email protected].

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