Chili Recipe

Written by CMP on May 04, 2008


There are certain dishes I obsess over for a period of time, experimenting with recipe variations until I hit upon something I like. Chili was one of those obsessions for me, and it lasted longer than most. Seventeen years, to be exact.

In the end, the winning concoction came down to omitting what I've been assuming to be the foundation of the recipe. To achieve Chili-Nirvana, I've removed all tomatoes from my recipe.

NO TOMATOES. That's right, you heard me. None. I'm pretty sure this qualifies it, to some extent, as a texas-style chili, which relies on pepper pulp for the base. Either way, I'm quite happy with the results.


Peppers, lots of 'em

  • 4-5 red bell peppers
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (goya makes a good product)
  • Other peppers. The more the better. I've used dried guadillo and anahiems, and various fresh hot peppers. Adjust the peppers you choose to include based on how spicy you want the chili to be.
  • 2-3 lbs cubed stewing beef
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 lime
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 package frozen corn
  • 3 28oz Cans Beans - One Red, One Black, One Pink
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 Beer
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Quart of Stock - (Beef or vegetable stock. My favorite happens to be the veggie stock I make at home, so that's what I use.)

Firstly, roast your fresh peppers. You can check out this roasted peppers post for how I like to handle the peppers.

While your fresh peppers are roasting, reconstitute any dried peppers you'll be using. Place the dried peppers in a small sauce pot with just enough stock to cover. Bring to a boil,  cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

While your various peppers are soaking and steaming, put a heavy stock/soup pot on the stove and let it start to get hot, over medium heat. Dust the beef lightly with seasoned flour. Once the pot is good and hot, add the olive oil, let it warm up for a few seconds, then start adding your beef to the pot. Don't over crowd the pot, cooking in batches will result in better color (and flavor) on your meat. Brown the beef on all sides and get a good crust on the meat (and the bottom of the pot).

As you're waiting for the beef to brown, you can start peeling your peppers. Remove one pepper at a time from the steaming container and remove the skin. It should slide right off (mostly). Deposit all the roasted and peeled peppers into a blender or food processor (you may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your gadget). Add your previously dried by now softened peppers to the same blender, along with about 1 cup of the liquid used to soften up the dried peppers. Blend until you have a nice roasted pepper pulp that will soon become the base of your chili.

Finish browning the beef, and somewhere in here find time to dice your onion and garlic. Remove the beef from the pot once properly browned, add a bit more olive oil, and toss in your onions. saute the onions 2-3 minutes until the become translucent, then add the garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds more.

Return all the beef to the pot, crank the heat up to HIGH, and add pour in the beer. Let the beer come to a boil, then add all the roasted pepper pulp, chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, juice from the lime, cinnamon sticks, and enough of the remaining stock so that everything is well covered. Bring the chili to a low, slow, boil, then reduce the heat to LOW and simmer at least 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.  You can simmer longer if the consistency is too thin for your liking. Just before your ready to serve, throw in the frozen corn and the beans and give them about 5 minutes in the pot to warm through. Add the cilantro at the last possible moment.

Serve as all good chili is served, with grated cheese, sour cream, and saltines.

Chili on Foodista

Recommended Gear:

Lodge dutch oven
Lodge Logic 7-Quart Dutch Oven
with Spiral Handle Bail and Iron Cover

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Seriously? No tomatoes?!?! And Saltines!?? Hmmm, I may just have to try this because I am a chili-freak and I don't think I've ever had chili without tomatoes! Now, where did the Saltines come from?!? That just seems wrong - but then again - I'm willing to give it a go!

Thanks for the comment, Nan!

The Saltines are sort of a side with the chili - spoon some on top of a cracker with a little dollop of sour cream and cheese and then pop it in your mouth. Yum!

Chili recipe tip. Let your chili cool in the refrigirator and the grease will float to the top and get hard. Makes it real ease to remove excess grease at that point. Nothing i hate more than grease chili.

wow.. this is a very interesting way to make chili. i never really thought about making it with no tomatoes. sounds great.

You've got beans in there. Black and pinto. I can see them in the picture, but not in the recipe. So which is it? Beans or no beans?

yes, beans. red, black, and pink. i large can (28oz?) each - and rinse all that bean juice off. if you're using dried, i would guess about 1 cup each.

The combination of the brown sugar with all of the chilis is awesome. The leftovers from this chili recipe also work great wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and eaten for lunch the next day.


I too am a fan of eliminating the tomatoes from chili for a more Texas-style chili. Honestly, I also prefer few or no beans as well.

Thanks for the reminder!

Really Nice recipe,easy to prepare.... But I think I'm going to add Bhut Jolokia chillies for that extra heat I love..

Nice. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe. I'll cook this over the weekend.

Wow no tomatoes!! I will have to make this recipe next weekend for my kids! Let you know how it turns out.

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