Friday, February 15, 2013

Almost Chili Perfecto

Copyright,  Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013

Day 13 

For our family’s annual Super Bowl dinner, we like to make chili. I really don’t enjoy sports on television or otherwise, so a perfect meal for the Super Bowl evening is essential in our house. Chili is a great choice because it’s even better the longer it simmers, and everyone can keep returning to the chili pot as frequently as they like. 

My husband, Doug, has a spectacular chili recipe that is closer to the traditional beanless Texas variety. Even though he usually makes his chili for the Super Bowl, I sometimes ask to make my version. This year, I was given the green light to make mine, so I’m including it here. 

Not at all traditional, the chili I like to prepare includes two beef cuts as well as pork. The beer and beans add a nice flavor and texture to the final product also. Of course, the amounts of spices can be altered to accommodate personal tastes, but the measurements I’ve included in today’s recipe are consistently nice and well balanced, I tend to think. 

When I make chili, I enjoy serving it over rice that has been tossed with lime juice and cilantro. I also add a healthy sprinkling of a good, sharp cheddar cheese, freshly chopped green onion, and a dollop of sour cream. Naturally, a good chili needs a good cornbread, so I like to make Green Chile Cheddar Cornbread. I’ve added that recipe here too, and it’s one that I’ve adjusted from various recipes online over the last year or two. 

Thinking back to my first chili adventure, I believe I was just about 20 years old. At the time, I had just married, and my former mother and father-in-law regularly served Texas chili whenever we visited. I remember asking to learn how to make it, so my mother-in-law, Linda, showed me how. I tried and tried to duplicate her recipe and never quite had the same, ideal flavor. Her expertise and practice allowed her to add a pinch of this or a bit of that to make it just right. 

And so it went, over the years, as I tried to recreate her nearly perfect chili. Eventually, I decided to take her ideas and ingredients, to add my personal sense of flavor, and to make a chili that was uniquely my own. Although I’m still tweaking and trying to perfect my recipe, I’m pretty darned happy with this one. 

Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Fowler for their culinary influence and for their love of cooking that helped to shape and expand my own appreciation of food.  Tate and I will look forward to sharing a bowl of their chili sometime in the near future, for sure!

 Almost Chili Perfecto


4 tbs. chili powder 
1 tbs. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 tbs. ground cumin  
1 tbs. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 cup cilantro, chopped finely
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs. black pepper
2 tbs. kosher salt

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground sausage
1½ pounds stew beef, chopped in ¼ inch cubes

¼ cup + 2 tbs. olive oil
2 large Vidalia onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped

2 cans whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped in food processor
2 cans pinto beans with juice
1- 12-oz bottle of beer* (Dos Equis Amber is a good choice for this chili)


In a large pot, heat ¼ cup olive oil and sauté onions and ground pepper. Once onions are almost translucent, add garlic and sauté for 2-4 additional minutes. Remove mixture from pot and set aside. In the same pot, brown the ground beef and sausage, drain, then set aside. Add 2 tbs. olive oil to the pot and bring to medium-high heat. Lightly salt, pepper, and flour the stew beef chunks, then brown in olive oil, turning to brown each side. 

To the stew beef, return the ground beef, ground pork, onions, peppers, and garlic. Then, add the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper. Stir.  Add the tomatoes, pintos, and beer. Stir well. 

Transfer all ingredients to a Crockpot** and simmer for 4-5 hours on lowest setting. Add cilantro just before serving. 

*If you prefer not to use beer in the recipe, you can substitute beer with ¾ cup of strong black coffee or 1 cup water. 

**If you don’t have Crockpot, you can certainly simmer the chili on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours. 
Green Chile Cheddar Cornbread

2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup sugar
4 eggs
1- 4 oz. can diced green chilies
1 ½ cups cream-style corn
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup all purpose flour
1  cup yellow cornmeal
2 tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
dash of hot sauce


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time. Add chilies, corn, hot sauce, and cheese, mixing well to incorporate. 

Sift together dry ingredients, then add to mixture slowly until smooth. 

Pour into well-greased 9-inch square pan and bake approximately 1 hour or until knife in center comes out clean.


  1. Maggie, I was searching through your blog today for a recipe for Baked Brie en Croute when I ran across your Almost Chili Perfecto recipe, as well as your gracious comments regarding my own attempts at Texas Chili like my mother used to make. I like your recipe's varied meats and cuts, and Your Green Chile Cheddar Cornbread recipe looks like the perfect accompaniment. I predict there will be a chili cookoff in our future, with you squaring off against Tom and me. :) Thank you for your kind words.

  2. Mrs. Fowler, thank you for commenting here! As far as Brie en Croûte, I usually "cheat" and use canned crescent roll dough, rolled out as one sheet, then wrap the brie. On top, I either serve a simple raspberry sauce or a homemade pecan praline sauce. I bake it at 350 just until the dough is cooked and lightly browned. There are so many baked Brie recipes, though, so if you're looking for one that is from scratch, I can search around for you!