As I embark on writing a post about chilli, I realize that this is a veritable culinary MINEFIELD.  There are cooks out there who have deeply held beliefs about what a “true” chilli is – some think beans are an abomination, some think that meat should be ground while others pulled, and still others think tomatoes shouldn’t even be in the same room much less the same dish.

But there is one thing almost all camps can agree on:  carrots in chilli is just WRONG.

I don’t pretend to say that this recipe is True Texan or Real Tex/Mex or even vaguely Authentic Anything.  This is just my creation – a dish that has evolved over the last 12 years, as I’ve discovered new flavors (chipotle paste), learned methods from other dishes (like cooking the spices before adding the meat) and tinkered with the proportions.  Serve it with tortilla chips or rice or tortillas … or top it with chopped onions or sour cream or guacamole or cheddar cheese … or, if you’re serving your family, put on a topping buffet and turn them loose. 

At any rate, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do –

Red’s Everything but the Kitchen Sink Chilli

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 orange pepper and 1 yellow pepper,  seeded and diced
  • 2 red chillies, seeded but not veined and diced (you’ll get some heat, but not as scorching as if you leave the seeds in)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 heaping Tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 heaping Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp ground coriander
  • 1 lb ground meat of your choice (beef, lamb, turkey, pork … it’s all good) – or not!
  • 6 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can lager
  • 2 Tbsp chipotle paste
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1/2  cup chopped cilantro

In a large pot over medium-high heat, pour a good couple of glugs of olive oil and pour in the pepper flakes while the oil is still cold.  When they start to sizzle, add the onions, peppers and garlic, stirring well to coat and cook until soft.  Add the spices, cooking well for a minute or so until fragrant.  If using meat, add it now and chop it up / stir it around to make sure all the onion and spice mixture is thoroughly incorporated as the meat browns.  When the meat is completely cooked, add the tomato paste and stir to combine.  Then, add the cans of tomatoes, bottle of beer and chipotle paste, stirring well.  Add the remaining beans and corn and taste for seasoning – adjusting as you need to – then bring to the boil.   Reduce to a low simmer and let it cook.  I like to take an afternoon and let it simmer for at least 2 hours so that it thickens nicely and the flavors have time to deepen.  Immediately before serving, stir in the cilantro.

Authentic?  no.  Warm and delicious?  absolutely.