Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chilly Charlie's Chili

Year after year, my (very awesome) dad (whose birthday happens to be today — happy birthday Dad!) would throw together a ginormous batch of chili and cornbread before Christmas to bring into work as his holiday gesture to his co-workers.

I can still picture the huge white stock pot on the stove with delicious splatters everywhere. And we had dinner out of the pot the night before the rest of the chili made its way to his office.

Over the years I've modified his base recipe to make my own version. It's surprisingly healthy, very tasty, and simple to boot — a perfect recipe to put together on a Sunday morning. Just throw everything in the slow cooker, let it all percolate for a few hours, and it'll be ready in time for the Playoff games Sunday afternoon!

The line-up of ingredients is pretty long, but everything is flexible depending on your personal preferences and the audience that you're feeding.

For instance, if you're making chili for a crowd, you might not want to make it too spicy and instead have hot sauce and chopped jalapenos available as a garnish. I used two huge jalapenos, minus the ribs (white parts) and seeds, and the chili was hardly spicy — should have thrown in some seeds too. It all just depends on the pepper.

So play with your ingredients and your garnishes and enjoy a bowl! This recipe keeps very well in the fridge for several days, and you can also freeze some for safe-keeping.

Cha'lie's Chili (recipe fills a 5-quart slow cooker)

2 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 bottle good beer (e.g., Yuengling, Sam Adams)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (Cento is a nice brand)
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes (ditto for Cento)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped
1-2 cups onion (1 used 1/2 of large vidalia onion), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
8 oz. beef broth (I prefer low-sodium)
1/8 cup cumin
1/8 cup chile powder
1/8 cup paprika
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. nutmeg
2-3 tbsp. sugar
2 bay leaves
Hot sauce to taste (optional — I like Cholula)
Kosher salt and ground black/white pepper to taste
1 15 oz. can kidney or pink beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • Brown the beef in a large pan. Drain well and add to the slow cooker.
  • Brown the pork in the same pan. Also drain and add to the slow cooker. 
  • Put about 1 tbsp. of olive oil in the same pan and add the chopped peppers and onion. Sprinkle with a hearty dose of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to season the veg. Over medium heat, saute the peppers and onions until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and let cook about another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add vegetable mixture to the slow cooker. 
  • Add all ingredients through the bay leaves to the slow cooker, including the cold, fresh beer (any good cook would take a swig of the beer first to make sure it was good enough for the chili...just saying). Don't add the beans just yet.
  • Let your slow cooker work its magic on high for about 3-4 hours, giving it a stir once or twice. About 30 minutes before the chili is done, add the drained and rinsed beans to the slow cooker so they can heat up and join the fun.
Serve up your chili in big bowls with lots of delicious garnishes available. My personal favs are sour cream, shredded cheddar, chopped tomato and avocado, and chopped jalapenos. A nice slab of cornbread on the side never hurt anyone either.

Brad loves his chili with handfuls of Fritos crunched up on top — it's a very personal dish!


  1. Mmm, fritos and chili- that sound delish!

  2. It's Brad's garnish of choice. :)

  3. I think your blog pics are stupendous from you new kitchen!!

  4. Now thats a involved recipe! Looks yummy. Happy bday to Charlie! ~Mel


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