Cleopatra Smith's Chili Beans

Cleopatra Smith's Chili Beans Recipe

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Lynnda Cloutier


This recipe is from writer Mary Loos. It's been handed down from her great grandmother, who sailed around Cape Horn to settle in Northern California. From the LA times cookbook.


★★★★★ 1 vote



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  • ·
    2 lbs. dry pinto beans
  • ·
    1 large ham bone and scraps from baked ham or 1 lb. cooked ham, cubed
  • ·
    2 chorizos or 3 hot italian sausages
  • ·
    3 tbsp. oil
  • ·
    1 can tomato sauce, 8 oz
  • ·
    1 large onion
  • ·
    4 whole cloves
  • ·
    1 green pepper, quartered and seeded
  • ·
    2 cloves garlic
  • ·
    salt, pepper
  • ·
    1 tbsp. chili powder
  • ·
    1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ·
    1 tsp. oregano
  • ·
    1 chile pequin, crushed
  • ·
    shredded monterey jack cheese

How to Make Cleopatra Smith's Chili Beans


  1. Wash beans and drain. Place in Dutch oven and cover with cold water. Let soak several hours or overnight. Don't drain. Add ham bone and scraps to beans.
  2. Remove casings from chorizos, cut up, and fry in oil til browned and crumbly. Stir in tomato sauce and add to beans. Quarter onion an stick e3ach quarter with 1 clove. Add to beans along with green pepper and garlic.
  3. Bring beans to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add chili powder, ginger, oregano, and chile pequin.
  4. Cover and cook 3 hours more. Stir occasionally. Add water as needed to keep beans covered. Cut into beans with spoon to break up green pepper and onion.
  5. Uncover during last hour of cooking time so beans will thicken. if beans are to be served in bowls like soup, add more water. Otherwise, turn into casserole,cover with cheese and bake at 350 til cheese is melted and beans are heated through. if desired, serve chopped onions and cilantro on the side.
    Note: A chile pequin is a tiny, very hot chile, If not available, substitute any other small hot chile.

Printable Recipe Card

About Cleopatra Smith's Chili Beans

Course/Dish: Vegetables, Pork

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