Red Beans in Wine

Merquén is one of my favorite ingredients I’ve discovered on my travels. It’s a Chilean smoked chile powder made from the cacho de cabra (goat’s horn) chile peppers. The chiles themselves look quite fierce, but they actually aren’t that spicy. They are dried, smoked, and ground to create a wonderfully heady ingredient that can add a whole new dimension to a wide array of dishes. Depending on the producer, the chiles can be ground with coriander seed, cumin, oregano, and/or salt. It is rising in popularity all over the world although it can be a bit tricky to track down. You can pick some up here.

These beans are rich, decadent, and CHEAP!  The depth of flavor that comes from the different herbs and spices is comforting and incredibly appetizing as well.

The most expensive ingredient is the red wine which serves as a handy beverage after cooking.  Dried beans last forever in your pantry, so there’s no reason not to be amply stocked.  The biggest obstacle to overcome to make this dish is remembering to soak the beans the night before.  You can always use the obvious shortcut of substituting canned beans.

They make a meal in themselves or you can serve them over brown rice or with some crusty bread.

Red beans in wine
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup/250g dried red beans*
  • 1 cup/250mL red wine (a third of a bottle)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 14oz/400g can diced tomatoes
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp/15g merquén**
  • 2-3 all-spice berries
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  1. Soak beans overnight in cold water (at least 12 hours).
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over low heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Add onions and cover. Stir every 5 minutes until onions are caramelized. Total cooking time is about 20 minutes.
  3. Add bell peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, herbs and spices; cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
  4. Pour in red wine and deglaze the pan, picking up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Turn up heat and allow alcohol to cook off, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes, 3 cans of water and beans. Cover, bring to a boil before reducing heat and simmering for 1½ hours or until beans are soft. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary.
  6. Salt to taste.
*1 14 oz/400g can of cooked red beans can be used if you don’t have time to soak the beans. **Merquén is a smoked Chilean chile powder. Smoked paprika or chipotle powder also work well.





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