RECIPE : Bean Chilli and Cornbread


Polenta originated in northern Italy where they made a porridge out of coarsely ground cornmeal. Polenta is wonderfully creamy, with a lightly sweet, buttery corn flavour.

Polenta is great topped with cheese, herbs, cooked vegetables, or a flavourful sauce - it is easily transformed into a mouth-watering comfort food.

You can also use polenta in the baking of cakes or cornbread as in the recipe below.

Ingredients for Bean Chilli

2 large onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

400g cooked kidney beans

400g cooked black beans

400ml chopped tomatoes

+/-200ml of extra water (but make sure the chilli is not too dry, the cornbread absorbs extra sauce when baked)

Ingredients for Cornbread

1 cup flour

1 cup polenta

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup melted butter

1 tablespoon sugar 

1 tin of sweetcorn 

Method for Bean Chilli

  • Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • Heat olive oil in a large frying pan that is also oven proof.
  • Chop onions and garlic and add to oil. Fry until softened.
  • Add spices and fry for a few minutes until fragrant.
  • Add chopped peppers and fry for a few minutes until softened.
  • Add beans and tinned tomatoes and gently simmer until peppers are soft.
  • Add extra water to thin sauce out.
  • While sauce is simmering make the cornbread topping.

Method for Cornbread

  • Sift together the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt.
  • Combine the milk, eggs, melted butter and sugar.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the flour is moistened, no more than 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Fold in the corn, but don’t overmix the batter.
  • Gently pour the batter on top of the bean chilli.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until cornbread is cooked.

Notes: The cornbread recipe could also be made separate in a bread tin or casserole dish

Soaking and Cooking Dry Beans

  • Place the beans in a large bowl or jar. Discard any stones or debris. Cover with water and discard any beans that float. Soak at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well
  • Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water, to approximately 1 inch above the beans. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Skim any foam off the top, then add 2 teaspoon sea salt. Continue simmering until tender but not mushy, up to 2 more hours, stirring occasionally. The timing will depend on the type and freshness of your beans. Typically check them every 30 minutes. If they start to look dry, add a bit more water to the pot.
  • When the beans are tender, season to taste with more salt and pepper. Store cooked beans in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for several months.

 Notes: Using a pressure cooker will decrease the cooking time.

Recipe by Wooden Spoon Kitchen

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