Black turtle beans: perfect for ‘Cub Camp Chilli’

February 28, 2014 2:07 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Black turtle beans are fantastic to look at – shiny and black, they’re just asking to be picked up and trickled through your fingers. They’re fairly unusual in this country, though extremely popular in Latin American cooking, as well as in Cajun and Creole dishes. When cooked, they have a particularly rich, meaty taste and texture, which makes them a popular choice in vegetarian dishes.

Naturally Good Food sells black turtle beans in 5kg and 25kg packs. The larger packs are popular with restaurants and catering facilities, offering a great saving on buying lots of smaller bags.

And for anyone catering for a large group of people – a Bonfire Night party, perhaps, or a birthday party in the house, or even a chilly Easter Cub Camp – and looking for an end-of-the-day chilli, these might be just what you need.

It’s a good idea to soak the beans overnight, as this allows them to cook more quickly the next day. Don’t automatically throw away the cooking water: in South America, it’s usual to keep it and eat it as a soup, with added seasoning.

Black beans are great for the digestive system, particularly for colonic health. The indigestible portion found in black beans is actually higher than that in lentils and chickpeas, and they also provide loads of phytonutrients.

So, for a boost of flavour, colour, interest and nutrition, why not give this recipe a try? The name alone should appeal to small boys (of all ages) and it has the Cub Camp advantage of being easily prepared in a single pot.

Black turtle bean Cub Camp Chilli

Serves about 25 small boys: as cooking for these numbers can be a little hit and miss, some quantities are vaguer than others. With the seasoning, particularly, use your common sense and try a bit before you add too much! You should also note that the turtle beans need to be cooked before you add them – an activity for the night and morning before you start this recipe.


Olive oil

6 carrots

6 garlic cloves

6 red onions

6 peppers

2 tbsp chilli powder

1 tbsp each of smoked paprika, ground cumin, oregano

Most of a tube, packet or tin of tomato puree

2.5kg beef mince

1.5kg black turtle beans, cooked

6 tins tomatoes

3 litres beef stock


First, light your fire!

Chop all the veg and soften in olive oil over the fire, then throw in the spices and cook for a few minutes. Next, add the beef mince and brown it. Stir in the beans, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes and beef stock, adding salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cook for about 2 hours. Just before the end, if you want to increase excitement levels, crumble in a bar of dark chocolate – challenge them to taste the difference!

Serve with rice or jacket potatoes, and for the grown-ups, sour cream.

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This post was written by Sue

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