Serves 8 to10 · Total time: 1 hour · Active time: 20 minutes

I’m no Texas chili expert, but I am a culinary reality TV expert, and one thing that’s for sure is that if chefs on a cooking competition talk about Texas, they talk about chili. And if they talk about chili, they have to state no less than 10 times that Texas chili has no beans in it. They’ll say it in slow-mo and with echo and dubbed over techno music. Texas chili has no beans. Did you hear that? NO BEANS! So this is my reverse homage to Texas chili. A mean pot of stew filled with all my favorite beans! It’s thick and stick-to-your ribs, and super duper meaty thanks to the cooked down lentils. Serve with Cornbread Muffins and guacamole.

Recipe notes

* You can make this on the stovetop instead of in a slow cooker. Just use 2 extra cups of water and let the stew simmer for about 45 minutes.
* If you don’t want to futz with two different kinds of whole beans, either kidney or black beans could go solo, too.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced medium
  • 1 green pepper, seeded, diced medium
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced (seeded, if you want it less spicy)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons mild chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Several dashes fresh black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups water (plus extra as needed)
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, rinsed and drained (15-ounce can)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (15-ounce can)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 recipe Cornbread Muffins (recipe follows)

Set your slow cooker to “sear.”

Sauté the onion, green pepper and jalapeño in the oil with a big pinch of salt for 5 to 7 minutes, until onion is translucent.

Add the garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients, cover and set to slow cook for at least 8 hours.

Taste for salt and seasoning, and thin with a little water if necessary.


Cornbread Muffins
Makes 12 muffins · Total time: 40 minutes · Active time: 10 minutes

These are what I consider the perfect cornbread muffin for breakfast or for chili. Beautifully golden, not too sweet, plenty of corn flavor, and lots of great texture, too, thanks to fresh corn kernels baked right in. As usual, fresh kernels cut right from the cob are best. But frozen is perfectly fine, too! Just make sure they are thawed first.

If you’d like to turn this into a berry muffin, feel free to add 1 teaspoon of vanilla with the wet ingredients along with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, then fold in 1 cup of berries.

  • 1 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal, medium ground
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup corn kernels (thawed if using frozen)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Measure out the milk and add the apple cider vinegar to it, then set aside to curdle.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and add in the milk, oil and applesauce. Stir together the wet ingredients in the well. Then mix the wet and dry together just until the dry ingredients are moistened, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the corn kernels.

Fill each muffin tin most of the way with batter. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Tops should feel firm to the touch and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.

Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle (usually 10 minutes or so), transfer muffins to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.