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Late Winter

March 2013

Chiles, L to R: guajillo, ancho, pasilla negro, pasilla de Oaxaca, árbol

We never expected to be wading around in the androgen swamp known as chili. Goes to show what can happen when you want to introduce a great little bean. Now, a bunch of you will protest that chili is no country for beans. But our chili and beans never actually make contact with each other. They aren’t even on the same page! You may arrange an introduction should you be of a mind—or enjoy each on strictly individual terms. Personally, we think them rather a smashing couple.

Sea Island Purple Cape Beans


A new-old tiny heirloom inspired everything within this issue of Anson Mills news. Before the Great Depression, Sea Island Purple Cape Beans had an illustrious history in the fishing and farming families of rural Cape Romain, a sea island wilderness north of Charleston. Until three years ago, we hadn’t seen any local Cape beans since the 1980s. Then we found some ex-pat Carolinians—growing them in the Midwest, of all places! They had discovered the seed through relatives in Costa Rica. Over the past three years, Anson Mills has coddled these little beans back to life in their original habitat, and two years ago, we began sharing Purple Cape Beans with farmer and chef friends—just as we do with all our heirlooms. Everyone who knows these beans loves them—so much so that we now have a waiting list. But because we allocate what we make available, we decided to allocate some for you! Sea Island Purple Cape beans produce purple stock when simmered slowly and cook to a silky, smooth texture. They have deep flavors of the wild regions within Cape Romain, and a bare whiff of smoke. This is a great bean for cooking on its own and pairing with rice, of course, or as a partner to all manner of ingredients, especially game, beef, and seafood.

Consider this sleek foundation recipe, Slow-Cooked Purple Cape Beans, the first of many to come featuring these elegant little beans.


Our take on chili began in a storm of fire but ended driven by chili’s historical roots, not by what we see in modern American recipes. We examined the diverse spectrum of chile plants in North America and experimented in the kitchen to find a combination of dried chiles that prefers less dynamic cooking and that begs for a gentle hand and slow flavor development. The combination of chiles, ingredients, and techniques we favor in this recipe produce a chili whose flavors possess the visual dimension of quietly shifting Northern Lights—not a meteor shower—and bold but subtly different flavor sensations with each spoonful.

Welcome to our Lost and Found Chili where flavor depth and dimension become the goal, and the magic of chiles determines its compelling outcome.


Bake our cornbread batter in cast-iron muffin pans, slice them into coins, toast them buttered in a pan, and you’ve got yourself a world-class chili enhancer.

See y’all in the Lost and Found—and Good Food!