Just Good Chili

By • December 29, 2009 • 59 Comments



Author Notes: I've been making this recipe for a few years now, basically an amalgam of chili recipes I have known and loved. This is truly a toss it all in type deal, but you can omit many of the ingredients except, IMHO, the beer, which gives the chili bite, and the spices and onions. Texans will be offended by the beans. Normal people would not add carrots; I do it because my husband likes them. I often use half the liquid recommended if I want a thicker brew. Another cheat is a can of fire roasted tomatoes, and no chili powder. I often make this with ground turkey meat only, and no sirloin at all. I know people who have made it into a vegetarian dish. Do as you like, and enjoy! Jestei

Serves many

  • 1 to 2 tablespoon oil (i prefer olive veg is fine)
  • 1 pound sirloin, cubed
  • 1 pound ground meat (I prefer buffalo; turkey or beef fine)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Bottle of beer (my choice is Fat Tire)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup coffee (strong is best)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 finely chopped chili of choice (i use seeded serrano)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heaping of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon heaping of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 15 ounce cans kidney beans
  • 1 15 ounce cans white beans
  • 5 large carrots, chopped into discs (OPTIONAL)
  1. In large stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over med. flame and brown meat, sirloin chunks first then ground.
  2. When meat is lightly browned, throw on the onions.
  3. Take two large sips from the beer.
  4. Add remaining beer plus, tomatoes, coffee and tomato paste.
  5. Add sugar, spices and kidney beans. Reduce flame to low and let simmer for an hour.
  6. Add white beans and carrots simmer for another hour or two; longer will be better. Season as needed.
Jump to Comments (59)

Tags: Jennifer Steinhauer, Jenny, Jenny's in the Kitchen, jestei

Comments (59) Questions (3)

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14 days ago Owen Shelton

That is not chili...It is a soup like chili....I have a recipe for chili that won the world championship many many years ago, forgot the date...It is so far above this there is no comparison and no cocoa..chili does not have cocoa, the meats the whole thing is for amateurs......................

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6 months ago DeArmasA

WOW!!!! I admit, I was skeptical of the ingredient list, but this was a fantastic recipe! A few comments: a) I started with soaked dried beans, so I added a 14.5oz can of tomato sauce and a 14.5oz can of water b) I omitted the sirloin c) I added roasted corn. Thank you for sharing!!

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6 months ago Geni

This was Delicious! I'd never used the cocoa, coffee, beer combo in chili before and my husband was prepared to not like it at all ("nobody makes chili THAT way"!). He then ate 2 very large bowls and said it was great! Had only 1 lb of ground beef so I tweaked the recipe. Since I kept adding more and more of the spices as well as the chili "holy trinity"(not the cajun/creole "holy trinity"), I probably ended up using close to the original amounts. I didn't have a chili to use, I used a whole can of tomatoes, 1 can of light red kidney beans, and because I'd had my 1 yo and 4 yo grand children for the entire day, I took several big swigs of the beer and added the rest. Forgot to add the cayenne, but will next time. Used a whole red bell pepper instead of carrots and about 2 Tb brown sugar. Will make again soon! Thanks so much for the recipe!

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6 months ago Frank

How much beef stock?!

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6 months ago Jestei

sorry: i took the beef stock out of the recipe because i decided it added too much liquid (i have been tweaking this recipe lately) but if you wanted to add stock i'd do 1/2 a cup

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6 months ago Mini Irwin

I just made this recipe. I think it's horrible...way too sweet. Has no resemblance to chili at all.

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6 months ago tanya

This is the ebt chili I've ever made! I had the chance to make it with ground moose and venison. Delish!

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6 months ago Laurelb

Fabulous. Made it according to the recipe except the chili as use which I didn't have. Used cherry chipotle barbecue sauce instead.

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7 months ago phyllis

Yes, indeed, congratulations!! I've made this chili a bunch of times and it's delicious. I'll try the others you have recipes for in the NYTimes as well.

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7 months ago JK

Congratulations on being in the NYTimes! I immediately recognized the recipe when I saw it.
Love making this recipe of yours, especially when it's so cold here in NYC.

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7 months ago SCalabretta

Truly delicious chili with real flavor complexity and depth. The only change I would make would be to the amount of brown sugar--I used 1/3 cup and still found it to be too sweet for my liking.

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8 months ago Chef Carlos

Terrific chili recipe, I used crushed coriander seeds since I wasn't sure what the recipe was calling for, habanero chill sauce and cut back on the brown sugar and cayenne. It was still spicy but not too spicy, and was great with fresh juice margaritas. Sustained us for the Broncos victory dance.

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10 months ago landseergirl

Omg, this is the best. Nice and thick. I didn't have coffee but used espresso powder instead. I decreased the brown sugar amount and used 2 cans of beans. The ground meat was pork. Excellent.

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10 months ago Ellen Anderson

I made this for a chili cook-off at work (not a good idea for a first time recipe, but hey). I made a few changes: half an onion, subbed the chili sauce, cayenne and serrano for some canned chipotles in adobo sauce (because that's what I had and I don't like too spicy, added a good smokey flavor), subbed white beans for pinto, reduced brown sugar to 3T and bought a bag of shredded carrots which I sauteed with the onions (highly necessary in my opinion, they were still crunchy after 4hrs on low!). I wanted to use my crockpot for easy transport to work but when I doubled the recipe(though all the amounts I give are based the standard single recipe amount) I ran out of room (in a 7qt crockpot!) I had to haul out the LeCreuset and work half in the oven . By the end I wasn't really happy with it, it was very soupy and kind of bland (obviously it was missing some of the heat but it was more than just that). I almost abandoned ship but instead I buckled down and fixed it. I turned the heat up and cooked it down. I added another can of tomato paste because I like a thick sauce to coat everything. I added 1t more of salt, 1/2t of smoked paprika, 1/4t chili powder, 1/2t garlic powder (next time I would have used fresh garlic in with onions) and 1/2t onion powder. Then I was happy. I refrigerated it overnight and the next day I found that the sweetness had really intensified overnight. I would probably only use 1-2T of brown sugar next time. I think next time I would also marinate the steak with the spices ahead of time, it needed to absorb more flavor, the pieces were kind of bland. I would definitely try this again, it was different than my normal spice packet + ground beef chili. Worth the effort to say it was completely homemade and I loved the ground beef/steak combo!

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10 months ago Sandi

This is now my all-time favorite chili! I used Oryx (antelope), but I don't think the meat is "key" - it's the seasonings. I doubt I'll get more game meat, but will use other meats and make this A LOT! Ate it 2 nights in a row & am craving more already - thanks for posting the recipe!

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10 months ago sbf-ct

This chili is positively fabulous! I adapted a bit and used venison sausage and ground lamb... and holy cow.. bar none the best I've ever made. Now if only I could find more venison sausage... trying it with goose sausage this weekend. Thanks for such a great recipe!

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11 months ago jackandlily

I thought my chili was the best until I tried this one. The cocoa, coffee and beer add so much depth to this chili. It's wonderful. I used Siracha for the chili sauce and I substituted a can of black beans for one can of red. Fabulous.

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12 months ago SJMIKO

This chili is way too sweet! My instincts told me 1/2 cup of brown sugar was too much, but I didn't listen. My guests called it the "dessert chili". I think this recipe has great potential. I plan to try it again with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.

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about 1 year ago Muttersome

I made this for a fantasy football draft party and it was amazing. I did customize quite a bit (switched in pinto beans for one of the cans of kidney beans, only 1/4 cup brown sugar, added a reconstituted and pureed ancho chili, left out the coriander), and I also cooked it on the stovetop and then transferred to a slow cooker to keep it warm throughout the afternoon. Right before serving I cranked the slow cooker up to high and it worked well. I agree with other commenters that the holy trinity of beer, coffee, and cocoa powder is the real winner here.

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over 1 year ago Foodvergnugen

Hot dang, that's good chili. Really, the take-away is the coffee, cocoa powder and beer. I changed the recipe to suit my preferences: used 2 lbs of ground beef; just pinch of coriander; used only red kidney beans; subbed the carrot for one red bell pepper; didn't have beef stock, so used chicken stock; used Modelo Especial but probably should have used a darker beer; more onions; salted the ingredients throughout the cooking process. It needed a fair amount of salt-- I'd say at least 3 teaspoons, if not more. Dressed with sour cream and melted shredded cheddar. Ate with tortilla chips. Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum....

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over 1 year ago DanP

Served at Super Bowl dinner last night. Guest comment this morning: "that was killin' chili, best I've ever eaten "