There’s plenty of time to enjoy a pot of chili

This winter favorite has many iterations, from spicy to mild, using a variety of hearty ingredients

    There’s plenty of winter left, and that means there’s plenty of time to make a big pot of chili.
    It’s a traditional winter meal, one often made of beef with a tomato-based sauce, beans and a variety of spices — and macaroni, if you subscribe to the camp that adds it to chili — but there are variations to suit a number of tastes.
    There are chilies that feature turkey, pork, chicken and venison — even vegetarian chilies.  
    To make a good chili, there are a few steps to follow. Always use high-quality meat and fresh vegetables, and cook them before combining with the liquids. That will add flavor.
    Toasting the spices can also add depth to the chili.
    If your chili is thin, add a little tomato paste. If it’s too thick, use broth to dilute it a little.
    Instead of one type of chili pepper, use a combination to bring out the flavor. Use fresh spices, not ones that have been in your pantry for years, and create your own mix of spices instead of a pre-packaged mix.
    Add the beans early in the cooking process to allow them to absorb the flavor of the chili. Dark red or black kidney beans work best. They keep their shape better than light red kidney beans.
    To allow the flavor to deepen, cook the chili a day before you want to eat it. Or, if you can’t resist it, make the chili in the morning and serve it in the evening.
    Serve your chili with sour cream, grated cheese, herbs and crushed tortillas.
    Or make a cornbread shell and serve your chili inside it.
    Leftover chili can be used on baked potatoes, hot dogs and burritos or as a filling for omelets.
    Following are a few chili recipes from

The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
2 12-ounce packages vegetarian burger crumbles
3 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
¼ cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans
1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn

    Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onion and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano and salt. Cook, stirring, until onion is tender, then mix in celery, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic and green chile peppers. When vegetables are heated through, mix in vegetarian burger crumbles. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer five minutes.
    Mix tomatoes into the pot. Season with chili powder and pepper. Stir in kidney beans, garbanzo beans and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in corn, and continue cooking five minutes before serving.


Smokin’ Scovilles Turkey Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 small green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
2 pounds lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1-ounce envelope instant hot chocolate mix
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup cheap beer
1/2 cup canned whole kernel corn
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

    Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, green peppers and habanero pepper and cook, stirring, until onion is transparent. Push onions to one side of the pot and crumble in the ground turkey. Cover and cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink. Stir everything together.
    Season with chili powder, red pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, oregano, pepper, hot cocoa mix and seasoned salt. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, diced tomatoes with green chilies, tomato sauce and kidney beans. Pour in about a third of the beer. Partially cover the pan and simmer over medium heat about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Mix in corn and hot pepper sauce and simmer about 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.


Sweet Potato Chili

2 sweet potatoes, diced
2 14.5-ounce cans diced stewed tomatoes with chili seasonings
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3/4 cup diced sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound ground beef
1 12-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn

    Place sweet potatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, celery, water, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and onion powder in a slow cooker. Cook on high, stirring occasionally, for five hours.
    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and ground beef and cook, stirring, for five to 10 minutes,  until meat is crumbly, evenly browned and no longer pink. Drain fat. Add cooked ground turkey, cooked ground beef, black beans and corn to sweet potato mixture and cook one to two hours, until flavors are blended. Serve warm.

Drunk Deer Chili

1/4 cup butter
1 pound ground venison
1 pound cubed beef stew meat
1 pound cubed pork stew meat
1 large onion, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 14-ounce cans stewed tomatoes with juice
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
1/4 cup bourbon
2 12-ounce cans pilsner-style beer
2 cups water

    Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook venison, beef and pork in butter until completely browned. Add onion and jalapeno and cook until tender. Season with chili powder, cayenne pepper and cumin.
    Stir in stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic and beef bouillon. Pour bourbon, beer and water into the mixture and stir. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer about one hour, stirring frequently.


Firehouse Station 2 Healthy Chili

2 -1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
4 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans chili beans
2 15-ounce cans red beans in chili sauce
1 15-ounce can yellow and white corn, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chile peppers
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

    Brown turkey and Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium heat about 10 minutes, until meat is crumbly and no longer pink. Add green and red bell peppers and cook, stirring, about 10 minutes, until peppers are soft and excess liquid has evaporated.
    Mix diced tomatoes, chili beans, red beans in chili sauce, yellow and white corn, black beans, chopped green chiles, barbecue sauce, cumin, chili powder, parsley and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Stir turkey mixture into chili and simmer 15 more minutes.


Pork Chili Verde
(Green Pork Chili)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 fresh tomatillos
3 jalapeno chile peppers, seeded
1 poblano chile pepper, seeded
6 cloves peeled garlic
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 bay leaf
2 -1/2 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
Pickled red onions, optional
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

    Heat oil in a pot over high heat until nearly smoking. Add pork shoulder cubes in a single layer. Sear four to five minutes, until brown on one side, then turn pieces over and brown on the other side. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, four minutes, until onions turn translucent. Add oregano, cumin, coriander and cayenne and cook, stirring, about two minutes, until seasonings are fragrant. Reduce heat to low.
    Remove paper husk from tomatillos and rinse. Cut into quarters. Place in blender with garlic, jalapeno pepper, poblano, cilantro and chicken broth. Pulse until pieces start to break down, then blend 30 seconds, until mixture is liquefied. Stir into the meat mixture. Add one teaspoon salt and bay leaf, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and maintain a slow but steady simmer for about one hour.
    Add potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. If mixture has reduced so much that the potatoes are not covered, add more broth to cover. Simmer 45 minutes to one hour, until meat and potatoes are tender.
    Garnish individual servings with a dollop of sour cream, pickled red onions and cilantro leaves.


Creamy White Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 15.5-ounce cans great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chiles
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

    Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook chicken, onion and garlic in hot oil for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring, until chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear,.
    Mix Great Northern beans, chicken broth, green chiles, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne pepper into chicken mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.
    Remove chili from heat, stir in sour cream and whipping cream until incorporated.


Beef, Bean and Bean Chili

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 teaspoons salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons ground ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 12-ounce bottle beer
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups water
1 cup tomato puree
2/3 cup diced poblano pepper
2 12-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed well

    Drizzle oil in a pot over high heat. Add diced onion, ground beef and salt and brown, breaking up meat as it browns. Continue stirring four minutes, until the released liquid evaporates. Reduce heat to medium-high and add garlic, chile powder, cumin, paprika, black pepper and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for three to four minutes, until mixture begins to darken.
    Stir in beer and add cocoa powder, oregano, cayenne, water and tomato puree. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, then adjust heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes.
    Stir in diced green pepper and pinto beans. If mixture is too thick, add a bit more water. Simmer 30 or more minutes, until peppers are tender and flavors have blended.



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