Stories Behind the Recipe: Four-Bean Chili

Samantha Leder is a JLDOC member and contributor to Taste of Tobacco Road.  Here, she writes about her love for cooking, her idea of a best Valentines night, and talks about her recipe, The Four-Bean Chili, found on page 163 of Taste of Tobacco Road.

The Four-Bean chili looks like a great option for a no-fuss, cozy night in. Do you have any stories behind this recipe? How did you develop it?

Top view of bowl of black bean chili with wooden spoon and fresh
Samantha: My family often spends Thanksgivings at the beach on Bald Head Island! This recipe originated many years ago when my mom asked me to plan dinner for our first night at the beach. I figured after a day of travel I wanted to find something quick, easy, and relatively healthy prior to our big Thanksgiving meal. I came across this recipe and added a few tweaks of my own and voila–the perfect, cozy winter dish that we have eaten every year since and it has become our little pre-Thanksgiving family tradition! So easy to just throw all the ingredients in the crock pot when we arrive, head out to enjoy the day and come home to a warm, yummy meal.

Anything you would recommend pairing with it?  A wine or a beer?

Samantha: I definitely recommend pairing this with tortilla chips for dipping! And always extra cheese is a great idea. We typically keep it light on the sides, but I think a small salad would be a perfect addition as well as a nice glass of wine.

Any tips / tricks / twists

Samantha: Add the couscous slowly at the end and adjust more/less to your preference. Just be careful that if you are planning to have leftovers, don’t overdo the couscous as it will soak up the liquid and you’ll end up having more of a thick pasta dish then a chili. Adding the can of sweet corn is one of my favorite additions! You can also adjust the heat by adding more/less spice to taste. that you would recommend for this recipe?

What does your best Valentines or Galentines night look like?

Samantha: Anything that makes you feel special and surrounded by people/things that you love. Whether that’s movie night with girlfriends, in-home solo spa night or dinner with a sweetheart, I’ve done and loved them all! This year, I’ll be working a nightshift at the hospital so my celebrations will be a bit belated.

How would you describe your cooking style?

Samantha: I love traditions and am a very sentimental person.  For example, I gave my mom (a JL sustainer!) a blank notebook years ago and asked her to handwrite all my favorite recipes from over the years inside. This is such a special book to me and she has continued to add recipes ever since. I also like to find new recipes online or in cookbooks and add some tweaks to make them my own.