I've made and eaten a lot of chili over the years but this recipe is our family's favorite, hands down, and I'm sharing it with you. People are funny about their chili recipes, have you noticed that? Normally nice people get possessive and secretive when they start talking about their recipe. Sometimes they purposely leave out ingredients if they're sharing it, or they downright refuse to share their family recipe at all with anyone except their first born. Psshhht. It's chili, man! Share the love!
My teenage son will actually make it a point to be home for dinner when I make this chili, that's how good it is. Grown men have wept over their bowls of this chili. I jokingly call this "Man Chili" because of the 4 Bs in it - Beef, Beans, Bacon, and Beer. What more could a guy want in a meal? Or any gal for that matter?
I made this on Sunday, the same day the Seattle Seahawks were playing the Atlanta Falcons in the playoff game. Wasn't that game a NAILBITER til the last second? One of the most exciting games I've seen! I was actually screaming at times and jumping up and down (picture teenage son looking at me with a mixture of amusement, annoyance, and concern). The Seahawks lost in a heartbreaking ending but man, they played so well! It was an exciting season. Those Seahawks make a city proud!
This recipe is a meld of several recipes from over the years, but I've gotta give props to Guy Fieri's Dragon's Breath Chili for pushing it into the realm of the Best Chili Recipe Ever. At least I and my family think so and I don't make that claim lightly. When I first saw this recipe a few years back, I thought it was a little wacky and full of fun stuff, kinda like Guy Fieri. I took several of the components of that chili recipe and added them to my own to come up with this game day worthy chili that is a favorite in our house. The ingredient list is long and it does take time and a little effort to make, but it's fun to put together and so worth it because in the end, you have a HUGE pot of amazing chili that will feed your family and friends for days. You can certainly cut this recipe in half, but leftovers are the bomb and it freezes great.
This chili calls for just about half the meat aisle and 3 different kinds of beans. There's also several kinds of chiles in this chili. Guy Fieri uses roasted chiles in his recipe and I've roasted my own many times for this but I don't do that anymore. Now I just throw all the chiles in a food processor, chop 'em up, and add them directly to the pot to saute. It's a lot easier and I honestly don't taste a difference so it has become my standard method now. I also add several dried ancho chiles to the pot. Sometimes people are afraid of the dried ancho chiles but don't be. They actually take on a mellow, almost sweet flavor and aren't that spicy. The best way I can explain them is that they're almost like a smoky raisin. I know that's a weird comparison, but it's what comes to mind. Since knowing which chile peppers to buy can be confusing if you're not used to buying them, I took a pic and labeled them below. I'm sure you can figure out the onions and garlic part, but just in case, I labeled those too. :)
This chili is loaded with veggies but its also got a good amount of meat with saturated fat in it, so sometimes I'll actually stir in a couple handfuls of chopped fresh spinach in to the pot towards the end. I'm always trying to add healthy greens in to a dish whenever I can. Girl logic makes me think I'm countering the not-so-healthy ingredients by doing so and no one can taste the difference, so why not? Just don't tell the menfolk around here.
Hearty Game Day Chili
Adapted from Guy Fieri
Serving size: A lot. Makes one huge pot (My 12 quart stockpot is almost 2/3 full when all is said and done)
3 dried ancho chiles
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (this adds great texture)
4 slices hardwood smoked bacon, chopped
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into several large pieces
2 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and cut into several large pieces
3 Anaheim chiles, deseeded and cut into several large pieces
3 poblano chiles, deseeded and cut into several large pieces
2 yellow onions, skins removed and cut into several large pieces
1 head garlic, separated into cloves, skins removed, and minced
2 pounds lean ground beef/ground sirloin (85-90% lean) or 93% lean ground turkey
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage (if you can't find bulk, use links with casings removed)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (add 1 if you're concerned about the heat; season to taste with more if you like it hotter)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
16 ounces lager beer (my favorite for this is the large single bottle of St. Pauli Girl lager. I think it's a little more than 16 ounces but I pour the whole thing in)
2 - 15.5-ounce cans pinto beans, DON'T drain or rinse
2 - 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans, DON'T drain or rinse
2 - 15.5 ounce cans black beans, DON'T drain or rinse
Garnishes (optional): ideas include shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, minced onion, corn, avocado, cilantro, fresh tomato, lime, sliced jalapeno slices, cornbread toppers, etc.
In a small heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over the dried ancho chiles and let them soak while preparing the rest of the chili.
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat (I use a 12 quart stockpot), heat olive oil and add the chuck cubes. Cook for 4-5 minutes until brown and remove cubes into a small bowl.
Reduce heat to medium. Add chopped bacon. Render until bacon is browned and slightly crisp. Remove bacon bits to the same bowl as the chuck cubes. Keep the oil and bacon fat in the pot.
While the chuck and bacon are cooking, I prep the veggies. Add the red bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, Anaheim chiles, poblano chiles, and onions to a food processor and process to the size of a regular chop to maintain some texture. I almost forgot to add the bell pepper in so I threw that in after I started pulsing it and probably ended up processing the whole thing a little more than I normally would have, but it was still delicious.
Adjust heat to medium-high. Add chopped veggies to the stockpot and saute for 5-10 minutes until soft and slightly caramelized. Add minced garlic and saute for another minute. Add ground beef and Italian sausage, breaking it up gently and cooking it for another 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Stir in the cooked chuck cubes and bacon.
In a small bowl, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt. Add this mixture to the stockpot and stir. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and beer and cook for a couple minutes. Add beans.
Prepare the ancho chiles that have been soaking in water as follows: Remove from water and remove stem. Slice pepper in half and remove seeds. Chop fine and add to the stockpot.
Bring pot of chili to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for two hours. This is a thick chili so if you want to thin it out a little, add a cup of chicken stock to the pot. Check for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper if desired.
Serve with garnishes as desired. Personally, I might add a little minced onion if I had it but that's about it. I like my chili unadorned. Seriously, this doesn't really need anything else!
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