Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mary's Game Day Chili Con Carne

No matter how high the temperatures (or the humidity) climbed, or whether or not we had air conditioning where we were living at the time, I cooked up a huge pot of this chili in the middle of July for at least a decade. Now, why would I do that, you might ask? Well.... I "developed" my recipe back when we were young marrieds and it gave me a perfect and inexpensive way to feed a crowd when we entertained, which we did quite a lot back then.

But, as the years rolled on, I continued to make it for one of the best darned reasons that I can think of... it has been the daughter child's birthday dinner demand request, from the time she was about 13, right up until she went out on her own at the ripe old age of 23. And if she happens to be coming home even now, no matter what season it is, I still make it for her. All she has to do is ask. (and half the time, I've already whipped up a batch before she does) You see... what baby girl wants, baby girl gets! LOL (within reason, of course)

**There has been an update to the ingredient list as of March 2016! The original list called for 1 Cup of Beef Stock or Broth, when it should have been 2 Cups. I had the amount correct in the directions, but I didn't realize the error in the ingredient list until my hubby whipped up a batch recently and caught my boo-boo. Oooops! I do apologize if this caused any confusion for anyone making the chili prior to this correction!**

Mary's Game Day Chili
Looks like a lot of ingredients but it's really mostly a "dump and go" recipe. Once you get the ingredients mixed together in a big pot over a low flame, it's just a matter of checking and stirring it occasionally and in a little more than an hour, you're good to go!
  • 2 Lbs. Ground Beef (I prefer 80%)
  • 1 Lg Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 Lg Green Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbls Chili Powder, divided
  • 2 Tbls Ground Cumin, divided
  • 2 Tsp Onion Powder, divided
  • 2 Tsp Garlic Powder, divided
  • 2 Tsp Kosher Salt, divided
  • 1 Lg Can Chopped Green Chilies
  • 1 12oz Bottle of Beer (lager or pilsner styles work best)
  • 2 Cups Beef Broth or Stock (*it's good to have a bit extra on hand)
  • 2 Beef Bullion Cubes or 1 Tbls Beef Base (heaping)
  • 1 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Pinto Beans
  • 1 Can Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 Can Light Red Kidney Beans
  • Hot Sauce, to taste (optional)
* It's never a bad idea to have a cup or two of extra stock/broth on hand, for a couple of reasons. 1) If you need to keep the chili warm over low heat (or in a crockpot on the lowest setting) for a while because folks might be coming by later, it's going to thicken up as it sits. 2) Leftovers (if you have any) will also thicken in the fridge or the freezer, so it's nice to have a bit to add when you're reheating it.

In a large dutch oven, saute the onion and green pepper in a little light oil, until they start to soften a bit. Add in the ground beef and season with 1/2 of the chili powder, 1/2 of the cumin, 1/2 of the onion and garlic powders and 1/2 of the salt. Cook over medium-high heat until the beef is no longer pink and any liquid has been evaporated or absorbed. Add in the minced garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two, until the garlic is just slightly golden in color.

Stir in the can of chopped green chilies and give it a stir.  Then add the meat. I happened to have meatloaf mix this time, which is a combination of ground beef, ground veal and ground pork, but 8 out of 10 times, I make it with straight-up beef. This is also when you'll be adding the first half of your seasonings. Seasoning the meat itself makes a huge difference in the flavor of the finished chili. I do this with just about any dish that calls for cooked ground meat.

Combine 1/2 of each of the spices/seasonings in a small bowl.

Give them a good whisk or stir to blend them thoroughly.

Add them to the meat mixture...

...and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the meat is no longer pink and is lightly browned.

1) Open a frosty, cold beer.*
2) Now, open a second one and pour that into the pot. It might take a sec for the foam to subside.
3) Measure out (or eyeball) about 2 cups of beef stock.
4) Add the stock to the pot and stir again.
5) I used to use two cubes of beef bullion, but I now use liquid beef base instead. If bullion is what you have, by all means, go for it.
6) In my opinion, one packet of the concentrated beef base is equal to two cubes of bullion. (with less sodium, too!)
7) Add this to the pot.
8) I use a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes. If you only have whole tomatoes, drain off most of the liquid and then blend them or crush them with your (clean) hands thoroughly first.
9) Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir well.

*The beer in step 1 is for the cook and is totally optional, but the second beer mentioned is for the recipe and really shouldn't be left out, if at all possible, because it's truly an integral part of the flavor of this chili. As I've said several times before, when cooking with spirits, the alcohol "cooks out" of the finished dish, making it perfectly safe for the kiddies and for those who don't partake. 

Most often, I'll just use whatever the hubbs has in the fridge, unless it's a dark or a particularly hoppy or bitter beer. (like a stout or a double hopped IPA) In that case, I make sure to stop at the store and get a six-pack of a good lager or pilsner. As long as it isn't one of the big commercial brands, my better half doesn't have a problem taking care of the 5 that are left. Yes... he's a bit of a beer snob. lol

After the chili has simmered for about 25 to 30 minutes, I skim off any of the excess fat or grease that has accumulated on the top. If you use a relatively lean beef, there usually isn't much to skim and it's perfectly fine to leave a bit behind. Remember my friends... fat = flavor!

You can now add the second half of your spices to the pot. Stir well to combine.

While that's simmering, drain the 3 different types of beans and rinse them under cold water to remove any residual liquid from the can. Put about 1/3 of each of the three types of beans in a small bowl and mash them coarsely with a fork. The mixture doesn't have to be a totally smooth paste. I sometimes leave all of the pinto beans whole, depending on my mood.

Add the mashed beans to the pot and stir well to combine. Then add the rest of the whole beans and give the pot a quick stir.

Mashing a portion of the beans will help to thicken the chili. You can mash up more or less, depending on your own taste. We all just happen to prefer a nice thick chili.

Let the chili simmer over low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If your cooktop runs really hot, you might want to use a diffuser, so that your chili doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

When my daughter and her friends are joining us, I put out bowls of several different toppings. We like sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar or jack cheese, sliced jalapenos, tortilla chips or strips of fried flour tortillas and a couple of different hot sauce options.

A few other options to consider are: shredded lettuce or red cabbage, chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives - or whatever your family likes.!



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  1. OH. MY. GOSH. I have a recipe that people drool over but yours sounds so totally different that I can't wait to try it. Alpha Hubby and Son love chili, as do the people at Hubby's workplace. I bet this one will be a winner! I'll go see if I have the ingredients and make some today - yummers!!

    1. Thanks, Nan! I honestly don't like tooting my own horn, but I've gotta say that this chili has a really good balance of seasonings and a great consistency. Especially if you're someone who prefers your chili a bit on the thicker side. Not too thick, mind you. Just not as thin as say... a soup. I really hope your "Alphas" enjoy it, if you decide to make it! xo

  2. Aha! Mashing those beans gives the chili a little thickening without compromising the taste. How clever!!! I'm going to use that tip!

    I'm like you in that chili is an all-weather food. We just love the taste of it, and never mind what the calendar says!

    We've had to switch to a low carb, low salt, low cholesterol lifestyle around here, so I've had to adapt, adapt, adapt. Beans seem to be an acceptable food, so we're eating a lot of them these days. That's just another reason to go with chili...even if it does have to have ground turkey instead of beef. :-(

    Your chili looks delish, and your photos, as always, are so vivid I can almost smell and taste what's pictured! Hey...maybe that's the answer to me losing weight: just look at your photos instead of actually eating!!! :-) :-) :-) Have a great week!

    1. LOL Yup! Mashing a portion of the beans is one of my secret weapons. I bet if you mashed all of them well, you could probably fool kids who wouldn't eat chili with beans. Then they'd not only eat it, but might actually love it. Ground turkey is great too, especilly since you're liberally pre-seasoning the meat as it cooks. I think you'll be surprised by how much flavor that gives the finished chili.

      Thanks for the photo compliment... unfortunately, I have to look at and smell all of the food before, during and after I've cooked it and by that point my resistance is shot, so I just have to eat it. LOL I haven't quite figured out how to get out of that one. Hope your week ahead is a peaceful and productive one! XO


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