Black Bean Chili with Short Ribs – recipe below.

Caveman cookery. I’m partial to it. Recipes that can’t really be overcooked, don’t require a timer, rough chops are sufficient, measurements eyeballed – a dab here a skosh there a smidgen more, consistent outcomes,  served in what they were cooked, ingredients easy to come by and taste divine when served, are a few of my favorite things [recently watched The Sound of Music].

Take Collard Greens – their significance within the Southern culture and their heroic ability to lower cholesterol and fight cancer deserves capitalization. My husband and I love them. Possibly more than any single food item, they define Southern cuisine. Drinking pot likker, the highly concentrated, vitamin filled broth that results from cooking the greens down to a low gravy is a time honored hedonistic act that has resulted in more than one shooting at suppertime.

The reaction to the smell of cooking greens separates true Southerners from the wannabes.  I vote the turbid fragrance of greenery, soil, and spice that fills the house when they cook be bottled to take the place of Febreze.

“But I have never tasted meat, nor cabbage, nor corn, nor beans, nor fluid food as half as sweet as that first mess of greens.  —  James T.  Cotton Noe (1912)”.

I don’t know that guy, but I like him.

We Southerns take it on the chin for the amount of fried foods consumed – check out this technique for fried potatoes.

Oklahoma Fried Potatoes & Rocket Science

But I’m confident the amount of greens we eat counteracts that, since Collards are the undisputed king of all things good for you: read about their health benefits.  I calculate the bushels of Collards we eat in my kitchen every winter more than prepares our bodies for the stacks of hamburgers that fly off the summer grill.

Interestingly, the Greeks grew both Kale and Collards but made no distinction between them (an attempt to elevate collards to the cuisine level they merit).  Collards by the way, are considerably milder than Kale. Many wrongly believe the opposite.

There’s a wide choice of dark greens abundant during the winter months generally extending from December to April. And they’re so cheap you’ll cry.


Collard greens are my choice green as they fall nicely in the Caveman Cookery Category (CCC) and have a great deal of texture and body; as opposed to Mustards, (from the mustard plant – kale and collards are a cabbage), which are more delicate in texture, and not in the Caveman Cookery Category (CCC). They require a proper cooking time, otherwise they go too soft and can become bitter (although I do love their peppery taste and will throw some in at the end of a collard cooking session). Turnip greens, the tops of turnips if you needed a hint, are the most bitter and chewiest/most substantial body quality of the bunch (too much so for me).

@thehomechef, Steve Collins, a chef in Santa Fe that was introduced to me via a Tweet from @santafetraveler (is that clear as black bean soup?) was gracious enough to give me the recipe for his Black Bean Chili with Short Ribs.  I didn’t tell him I’m a caveman cook or that I’d be serving the chili with Collard Greens. I’ve made the recipe a few times now, the first time I actually followed it. Since then I’ve refined it for the CCC (caveman cookery category).

Which really means that since I have kids in D.C. that are working their asses off in full time jobs during the day and spending nights plying their dream trade of musicians, while simultaneously making a gallant attempt at having normal lives that revolve around a real dinnertime, I took some liberties with the recipe – as in shortcuts.  I hope Steve won’t be offended when I tell him the shortcuts really don’t materially compromise the final product, much.

And in the recipe’s defense, I wouldn’t have experimented with it if it weren’t deserving of the investment in time.  It’s divine and if you wish to have a bit of Santa Fe Cuisine warm up your winter evening, you’ll make this recipe using any of its iterations. More than once.  And since I believe in giving credit where credit’s due, Steve says the original recipe came from Deborah Madison’s Green Restaurant Cookbook. But really, recipes are like stories.  A bit of personal embellishment, an alteration of the characters, a slight change of story progression, a pass on to others, and it becomes your own.   So thank you Steve for this recipe – it’s a wonderful winter indulgence.


You asked the name of my kids’ band (son and future daughter-in-law might as well be a daughter)?  I thought I heard you ask that.  It’s North Meets South. As in he’s native Texan and she’s native North Dakotan. And they rock.  More people than I have said that (some that know what they’re talking about musically – they do more than simply watch The Sound of Music), so I make that statement simply because it’s true. If you live in the D.C. area, check their schedule for show dates. You could have them playing during your soon to be evening meal of Short Rib Black Bean Chili and Collard Greens. A glass of Italian Barolo would  make a nice accompaniment to the music and the meal.

North Meets South

North Meets South probably appreciates the plug.  Not so sure how they feel about being between a discussion of collard greens and chili.

SO. On with the cooking. Let’s start with the Collard Greens.

The Line Up…


Put 3 quarts of water in a large pot. Add a package of salt pork, or bacon will do  (1/2 lb. –  I like it unsliced, but whatever..), 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 TBL of seasoning salt, 1 TBL of hot sauce and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic (whole).  Slow boil for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Then add main character.

The Main Character…

Wash. It’s the hardest part.


Trim off the thickest part of stem. The quickest technique is to fold the leaf and pull away from stem. Don’t bother trying to remove all the stem. Too much trouble and it doesn’t matter.


Stack them as high as you dare


Roll ’em…


Slice like a jelly roll



Rough chop



Stuff them into the pot with the reduced broth, sitting on the lid if need be.  They will not be covered by the broth.  Doesn’t matter.  They make a bit of their own juice as they cook down.  And since you’ll cook them at a medium flame for about 15 minutes, stirring them every 5 minutes, they won’t burn.  After the 15 minutes, turn down to very low and take a nap.


They’ll look pale and wimpy after about an hour.  Not to fret, they won’t taste pale and wimpy.


Besides Black Bean Chili with Short Ribs, these are a few things I’ll serve with and/or on my mess o’greens.

  • olive oil
  • roasted garlic
  • dark sesame oil
  • Tabasco’s Spicy Soy Sauce (always in my cupboard, ordered by the case from Cajun Grocer).
  • cornbread. I don’t like the typically sweet Southern cornbread.  I make it with NO sugar in the batter, lots of butter melted in screaming hot cast iron skillet. Thick, crunchy exterior with the satisfying grit that can only be had from cornmeal. Moist, grainy interior. Yum.
  • hot peppers steeped in vinegar
  • a tomato
  • pinto beans
  • black eye peas

Black Bean Chili with Short Ribs

In a crock pot put 2 lbs of beef short ribs. Season the ribs with salt, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 TBL chili powder, 1 cup of sliced thin red onion, and 1 cup tomato sauce.  Cook on low overnight. Remove from pot. De-bone, removing excess fat. Place meat back into crock pot.




The original recipe calls for 1) dredging the ribs in a bit of flour and browning before adding to crock pot.  And 2) making your own ancho chile powder. Neither of which are difficult.  I made the first batch of chili utilizing these techniques, then dropped them for the streamlined version – no browning of the ribs and packaged ancho chile powder.


warming through the dried ancho chiles before grinding them.


use a blender for making the powder, not a food processor if you decide to make your own ancho chili powder

Back to the streamlined version:  In a large pan, saute 2 cups of diced onions (about 5 minutes) with one chopped Poblano pepper (purchased by accident, but then just decided to throw it in – original recipe does not call for one). Then add 2 cloves finely diced garlic and saute for another minute.  Add 3-4 TBL of ancho chile powder, 1 tsp ground chipotle powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp dried oregano, 2 – 16 oz cans black beans and 1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes. Stir to Mix. Add to meat in the crock pot. Cook on low for another 2-3 hours.  Serve with collards – what else?




Along with the accidental Poblano, this isn’t called for by the original recipe either. But I like using it for chili recipes (1 TBL).


The Caveman Cook uses all the grease a food emits until the end.  She cooks with it. She doesn’t serve it.  I love this trick from my grandmother. I can only do the 3rd person schtick for so long.

Allow the pot to sit untended (in other words don’t stir for a bit). The grease will rise to the top. Take a slice of bread and toss it on.

It will immediately soak up the grease riding on the food like a stubborn storm cloud over a just cut hay meadow.


‘Immediately’ means to toss it on, turn it, remove it.  Don’t let it sit. You don’t want it soaking up the liquid goodness, just the grease. If needed toss on another one.


I also love these – Dingle crystal celtic flame patterned tumbler from Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula – a road trip I’ve yet to write about.  And its contents – vodka tonic, my drink of choice. Which segues into telling you my other favored kitchen trick is putting limes down the garbage disposal (from the vodka tonic). Works better than baking soda. I’m not sure how all that came about but it works.


Newspapers and crockpots just go together – another kitchen trick.


If the chili is too thick for your taste or it thickens too much overnight in the fridge,  add a splash of the wine you served, or beef broth.


If this is the first blog post you’ve read that incorporated collard greens, chili, Italian Barolo wine, Dingle Peninsula hand blown crystal, grease removal, and a band poised for the big time, HONK.

Get your traveling foodie groove on over at Wanderlust and Lipstick, Wanderfood Wednesday.

Join the Road Trip Revolution at the Solo Road Trip Facebook Fan Page, here.

But I have never tasted meat, nor cabbage, nor corn, for beans, nor fluid food on half as sweet as that first mess of greens.
James T. Cotton Noe (1912)
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