Skip to Content

Weekend Chillin’ Chili

It’s Thanksgiving Weekend, and the first real chill of the season has hit the Midwest. When SoupAddict hears “chill,” she immediately thinks “chili” — a wonderfully hearty, meaty, spicy bowl of tummy-warming goodness.

No, she doesn’t. She thinks soup. Duh. But right after “soup,” SoupAddict thinks “chili.”

Chili is such an awesome weekend dish. You’re with me on this one, right? Throw some stuff in a pot on a crazy Saturday afternoon; let it simmer for a few hours. And by dinnertime, you’ve got a concoction that’s just begging to be poured into a bowl and curled up on the couch with. (SoupAddict doesn’t stand on blogging ceremony. She’s fine ending a sentence with a preposition.)

Okay, let’s get to it. Vegetarians, hit your Back button now. This is so not vegetarian chili.

In fact, we’re gonna start with a really good slab o’ brisket. Brisket is ever so lovely. We’re also gonna use an equal amount of chuck. About a pound and a half of each.

Trim up the brisket. You don’t need all that fat. SoupAddict definitely doesn’t need all that fat.

If you follow any of the chili competition circuits, you’ll often hear the chili masters talk about “mouth feel.” [SoupAddict will wait while you get your mind out of the gutter.] Seriously. Google “chili mouth feel” and you’ll understand

Mouth feel refers to the texture of the chili, and the satisfaction of the “chew.” (That’s SoupAddict’s term.) It’s highly subjective, as you can imagine, but, in SoupAddict’s personal opinion, ground beef just doesn’t cut it.

SoupAddict likes her chili meat cut into small cubes: 1/4″ to 1/2″ max. Try it — it’s a little extra work, but SoupAddict is pretty sure you’ll like it. (SoupAddict also just noticed that she is in some desperate need of hand lotion.)

These cute little cubes will cook up so tender and flavorful.

Hello, Chuck. Chuck is more densely marbled than brisket — you’ll need to do a little trimming. Repeat the same cube cuts.

Toss both brisket and chuck in a big bowl. Hmm. Brisket & Chuck, L.A. Detectives. Sounds like a good pilot for NBC.

SoupAddict forgot to do two things: (1) she forgot to put the meat in the freezer when she got home from her half day of work; and (2) she forgot to trim her fingernails. Partially frozen meat is a breeze to slice. And meat wedged under the nails is gross. I’m just sayin’.

Break out yer favorite chili powder. SoupAddict likes to make her own, thanks to Alton Brown. More on that another day.

Season the meat lightly with your chili powder. Here, SoupAddict’s extremely uncoordinated left hand gets the seasoning duty so her right hand can snap the seasoning action photo.

Mmmmm, veggies. SoupAddict loves da veggies.

Not only does the cutting board look gorgeous thusly decorated, but it smells divine.

Oh, and the spices. Clockwise from noon: dried oregano, Spanish paprika, dried basil, black pepper, sugar, cayenne pepper and (center) salt. Just grab a tablespoon, and dump some of each into a prep bowl.

SoupAddict is practically giddy on all the aromas. Fresh veggies, pungent spices.

Grab a tall soup pot, heat up a little oil, dump in the seasoned meat and Italian sausage. Stir frequently until the fat has rendered and the meat is browned.

Drain off the fat. You don’t need all that fat. SoupAddict definitely doesn’t need all that fat. Use a strainer to catch any cubes that try to escape. And they will.

Now comes the special goodies. This brand of diced tomatoes is particularly yummy, if you like chipotle. And you should. Dump them into the meat. It will appease the cubed meat gods, and they’ll have less of an urge to escape.

SoupAddict can never understand why canned tomato paste is so damn messy.

Beer in chili is delicious. Just pour some in. Take a swig. Pour in some more. (But if you’re serving chili to SoupAddict, keep your “pours” and “swigs” in the right order. Germs. Gross. I’m just sayin’.)

Then go in the veggies. It looks disturbing at first, all those chunky, pristine chunklets, but don’t worry. The veggies will cook down nicely.

The first spice dump. Add half of the spices, plus a generous helping of your chili powder, and get the simmer in your simmerin’ going.

Do the second spice dump halfway through the cooking time.

Now’s the time to do the first taste. It’s gonna be hot, so don’t rush it. You don’t want a burned tongue ruining the amazing amazingness that’s to come.

SoupAddict gives the chili’s progress an enthusiastic thumbs-up with her alligator-skin thumb. This is good stuff (the chili, not the alligator skin).

Holy moly.

A bowlful of yummy goodness. A blob of sour cream. A sprinkling of sharp cheddar cheese. Just the way SoupAddict loves it.

Weekend Chillin’ Chili

1 1/2 pounds brisket, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1 1/2 pounds chuck, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, your choice of flavor
1 (8 ounce) can tomato puree (or sauce)
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon bacon bits
3 cubes beef bouillon
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup chili powder (divided)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon white sugar

Season the cubed brisket and chuck with a portion of the chili powder. Set aside, while prepping the veggies. Measure the spices (except for the chili powder) into a bowl.

Heat a small amount of canola oil in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the cubed meat and crumble the Italian sausage into the hot pan. Cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.

Add all of the tomato products, stir well. Add the Worchestshire sauce, bacon bits, bouillon cubes and beer. Stir well.

Add the veggies, and allow the mixture to reach a simmer.

The first spice dump: Add one half of the bowl of the spices to the chili, along with half of the remaining chili powder. Stir well, and cover. Simmer for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The second spice dump: Add the remaining spices and chili powder. Stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Cover and allow to simmer for at least another 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. The longer the chili simmers, the more flavorful it will be.

Serve alone, or top with sour cream and grated cheese.


Sunday 5th of October 2014

It's freezing here in Columbus... time to break out my favorite go to chili recipe :D

Nick Decker

Thursday 11th of February 2010

I wanted to comment on your very nice food photography, too, but it's not because of the camera - it's the nice directional lighting and your sense of composition. (Asking a photographer what kind of camera he/she is using is like asking Ernest Hemingway what kind of pencil he used.)

Oh, and the chili sounds great!


Friday 12th of February 2010

Aw, thanks. Winter is really tough on the food photography - limited daylight and a north-facing window. I hate when things run long and I have to flip on the light in order to capture the final product. But, someday summer will return, and all will be golden!


Wednesday 9th of December 2009

I gotta agree with Wish, your photos are great. I especially liked the color of the Chilli Powder photo. What kinda camera are you using?


Sunday 13th of December 2009

Thanks! I have a Canon Rebel XSi and use a macro lens for food shots.


Wednesday 2nd of December 2009

Your photos are so beautiful. It's so not chili weather here (Australia, Summer, Hot) but I'm definitely going to bookmark this for a mildly cloudy day.

Lentil Breakdown

Saturday 28th of November 2009

Holy cow! You were right about the vegetarians hitting the back button!