Chili for Chilly Nights


Perhaps I should have worked on fine tuning my chili recipe in the fall instead of toward the end of winter. Or, one might say that I am way ahead of the curve this year, rather than far behind. Either way, chili is served.

We’ve had lots of sunshine this week, which has been so, so wonderful, but we did have one freak night of snow and we woke up to a blanket of white and a hunger for something warm and comforting. I’ve been making a version of this chili for a couple of years now, mostly combing the ingredients and steps of a few different recipes and never actually writing anything down. But on Tuesday, knowing we would need a big bowl of comfort food, I finally worked through my recipes, wrote everything down, made the chili, reworked the recipe and came up with a final (?) version. Even as I write this I can see how the recipe could be modified depending on my mood or what was in the pantry. Still, it’s nice to have all my ideas in one place.

My version of chili has both meat and beans, but you could omit either one and still feel really satisfied: take out the meat and add in another can of beans and more mushrooms, or another bell pepper. You could leave out the beans and still have a nice thick texture, though I would add in a bit of tomato paste to keep it from getting too soupy. My version has just enough heat for our milder palates, but feel free to up the chili powder or chipotles, or even add in a jalapeño or other pepper of your choice. The nice thing about chili is it’s very forgiving and customizable.

Also, I always like to serve dill pickles or cornichons on the side. I grew up eating them with chili and somehow I can’t do without the briny tang to break up all that meat and spice. Cheddar cheese and crackers are also a staple : )

Pork and Beef Chili

makes 6-8 servings; Total time: 2 hours

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 10-12 ounces cremini mushrooms (or your favorite mix), chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef (or beef and pork mix)
  • 8 ounces pork sausage
  • 1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (smoked, if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces lager beer ( I recommend for Americans: PBR and for Swiss: Quöllfrisch)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup beef stock, optional (for consistency)
  • Garnish: lime wedges, sour cream, shredded cheddar, sliced scallions


  1. In a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until slightly translucent, about 5-7 min. Add garlic and cook for thirty seconds. Turn heat down to medium.
  2. Add bell pepper and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their water and start to brown slightly, about 10-12 minutes. Remove vegetables from Dutch oven and set aside.
  4. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil. Add ground beef and break it up with wooden spoon. Once beef is broken up and beginning to brown, add pork sausage. Cook until meat is no longer pink and all juices run clear.
  5. Add Worcestershire sauce, chipotles, chili powder, oregano, paprika, and cumin to meat mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Let the spices cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring regularly.
  6. Add beer to pot to de-glaze and lift any fond from the bottom. Reduce beer by half.
  7. Add cooked vegetables, beans, and tomatoes. Turn down heat to low and simmer for 1 ½ hours.
  8. Taste for seasoning and add broth if you prefer a thinner consistency.
  9. Serve in bowls and garnish with your preferred fixings.


3 thoughts on “Chili for Chilly Nights

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