Beef and Bean Chili

For most of my adult life I’ve wanted to make a chili that I really liked. I’ve made pot after pot of chili that is totally unremarkable. So unremarkable in fact that last week when I said I was (yet again) going to try making a kick butt chili my husband stared at me blankly and commented that he didn’t recall me EVER making chili before. I’ve made it probably a dozen times since we started dating eight years ago. Beyond. Unremarkable.

I did a few things differently this time around. First, I made my own chili powder. I didn’t do it because I was trying to be creative. The markets here just do not carry it and chili powder is one of the necessary ingredients. I also used beef chuck instead of ground beef and I used two different kinds of beans because I like a lot of beans in chili. Lastly, I browned the meat and some of the veggies in bacon fat. Everyone has a jar of bacon fat in the fridge, right? If you don’t have any bacon fat squirreled away and don’t feel like browning some bacon to make this chili, feel free to use any flavorless oil you like. I must say though, the subtle smokiness the bacon fat brings to the dish is quite tasty.

Chili Powder
Makes about 1/2 c

2 T paprika
1 T smoked paprika
1 T oregano
1 T cumin
1 t cayenne pepper

Put spices into a bowl and stir well.

Beef and Bean Chili
Serves 4-6

2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
2 t oregano
1/2 t ground coriander
1/8 t cinnamon
1/4 c water
2-3 T bacon fat or canola oil
2 lb beef chuck, cut into 1″ cubes, hard white fat removed
1 med onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, stems, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
juice from 2 small limes (1 T)
1 t sugar
1 can kidney beans (14 oz)
1 can pinto beans (14 oz)
1 T masa flour mixed with 1/3 c water
garnish goodies such as shredded cheese, diced onion, crackers, tortillas, corn chips, sour cream

  1. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with 1/2 t salt.
  2. In a small bowl mix chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander and cinnamon with 1/4 c or so of water.  You want to make a thick paste.  Set aside.
  3. Heat up 1 T bacon fat in soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  4. Working in batches, brown beef cubes adding additional fat to the pan if it starts to get dry.  Set browned cubes aside on a plate or in a bowl so you can collect any juices that accumulate.
  5. If the pan is looking dry, add 1 T bacon fat or oil to pan.  Add onions and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add garlic and jalapenos and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spice paste and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the whole can of diced tomatoes, juice and all.  Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  Once the bits are all up, add 1 1/2 cans of water to the pot.
  8. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and stir occasionally. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.
  9. Drain and rinse beans.  Add to chili.
  10. Stir 1/3 c of water into masa flour until there are no lumps.  Slowly pour into chili while stirring.  Cook uncovered for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
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