Friends were coming over to watch the football game (Pats VS Colts) and we needed a hearty one bowl dish for a crowd. A voice in my head kept yelling Chili! Chili! Chili! So, I followed the voices in my head and found a way to adapt a chili recipe for a hearty one dish meal! Made with pork, beef and 4 different types of beans, this is a mild chili and if you want, you can kick it up a notch.
We have quite a few chili recipes on our Friends Food Family site. Everyone's favorite is Al Roker's Spectacular Chili Recipe. It's loaded with beef, sausage and beans. It's an easy recipe that has some heat but we would put it on the milder side of chili. As I was searching for a chili recipe, I googled "the best chili recipes." A number of them rose to the top of the search but the funny thing was the recipe reviews. You may call your recipe "the best" but it better be "the BEST" or people will call you out. I was amazed at how often people will comment on a recipe and make suggestions of how they made it better. Suddenly, I came across Halftime Chili on Bon Appetit's website. As I read through the reviews it was half and half. Half the people liked the recipe, the other half thought it was bland. OK, what if I decide to change it up a bit, maybe add some spicy pork sausage, cut back on the chili pepper, increase the tomato base and add a mixture of beans. What if I did a combination of Al Roker's Chili and this Halftime Chili?
We stopped at the supermarket and picked up a few ingredients. The original chili recipe called for 3 pounds of ground chuck. What if we did 1 pound of ground chuck, 1 pound of hot and spicy sausage and 1-1/2 pounds of stew beef? OK, we took care of the meat portion. What if we chose a number of different beans? Dark red kidney beans, pinto beans, cannellini beads and pink beans could work. We grabbed a bunch of different beans. Increase the tomato base, decrease a few of the spices...I think we are ready to go.
Many times when we are making big soups and stews, we use our 13-1/4 Quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven. We love this pan because it goes into the oven so easily and gives food that slow cooked flavor in half the time. It seals the recipe and gives it an even heat, around the pan versus from the bottom up on the stove. We are making a chili so get out the pan, it's going in the oven.
So, a few tips for this recipe:
- We cut back on the chili powder by 1 tablespoon. We felt the hot sausage had some spice to it. We weren't sure how "hot" it would be. Feel free to add more heat.
- We eliminated the jalapeno peppers, too.
If you are someone who likes a mild chili with a little bit of heat, but lots of flavor, this recipe is perfect. If you like a spicier chili, kick it up with some chili powder and consider adding (back) a jalapeno or two.
It took us about 3 hours total time to put together and cook the chili. It was perfect for our gathering, our friends loved the chili. We served it with corn bread as well as sour cream and shredded cheese. I love watching people break up cornbread and add it to the chili. When it comes to chili, people love it many different ways : spicy hot, with beans, without beans, topped with sour cream, mixed with corn bread : bottom line, chili is a great crowdpleaser. Make a batch of chili, you'll have friends for life.
Ingredients for Chunky Beef and Bean Chili
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 pound of hot sausage, in bulk
- 1 pound of ground chuck beef
- 1-1/2 pounds of stew beef, cut into 2 inch chunks
- 2 medium onions, chopped into 1 inch cubes
- 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 2 (28 ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes
- 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 - 12 ounce bottle of lager (or can of beer)
- 4 tablespoons of chili powder
- 2 teaspoons of cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 4 - 15 ounce cans of beans, drained - we used white cannellini, pinto, large dark kidney and small red beans. You can use any combination.
- sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese as optional toppings
1. In a large dutch oven, over medium high heat, add the olive oil and then cook the sausage until on longer pink, remove from pan. Add the ground chuck and cook until no longer pink, remove from pan. Add the stew meat and cook on all sides until no longer pink (5-8 minutes.), remove from pan. (I put them into one big dish once they were all cooked.)
2. Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and smashed garlic. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the onions are translucent and soft.
3. Add all the meat (and juices) back into the pan and stir together for 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
4. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, lager and all the spices. Return the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil.
5. Cover the pot with a lid and you can place the dutch oven into a 350 degree oven and let cook for 1 hour. Or reduce heat to low and allow to simmer, stirring ocassionally for 1 hour.
6. At the end of 1 hour, add all the beans, stir and return to the oven or to the stove for another hour. Remove from heat.
7. Add additional seasonings for taste - salt/pepper.
8. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream and cheese.
We served ours with corn bread! Makes enough for 10-12 people.