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New Orleans, LA, 70119
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swirl and savor

KT's Winter Warmer Chili

Beth Ribblett

It was one of those cold dark nights last week that I actually left the shop before 7pm.  As I opened the front door to Sangi's goofy dog greeting, comforting smoky, spicy smells drifted from the kitchen along with the rapidly clicking sound of a chopping knife in action.  Kerry was making chili.  I know if she is cooking the recipe is likely to include lots of peppers and a good amount of spicy heat, but there was another smell, a rich, almost caramel like sweetness in the air...ahh she had added one of her other favorite things in life to the recipe, a good dark beer. 

So we settled down with our delicious bowls of chili and cold bottles of Sierra Nevada beer while Harley the cat and Sangi made their cozy beds beside us to watch a little television.  There's nothing like a bowl of spicy chili in the winter to warm your soul...

    3-4 slices applewood or hickory smoked bacon, cut in pieces
    6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 small green bell pepper, chopped
    1 small anaheim or poblano pepper, chopped
    (combined about 1 cup peppers)
    1 pound lean ground beef
    1 pound ground pork
    1 tbl. ground cumin
    1 tbl. ground coriander
    1 tbl. ground ancho chile
    1 tbl. smoked paprika
    2 tsp. dried oregano
    1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
    ½ tsp salt (add more to taste later if needed)
    3 tbl. chopped chipotle chiles in ancho sauce
    2 tbl. apple cider vinegar
    Ground cayenne pepper to taste
    1 bottle (12 oz.) stout or porter beer
    1 to 1-1/2 c. water
    1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
    1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    Shredded cheddar, for garnish
    Sliced scallions, for garnish

In large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until lightly crisp, remove & set aside when browned. To the bacon fat add onions and peppers and sauté until nearly wilted then add garlic.

While onions etc are cooking, in a separate pan brown the meat in a tablespoon of oil with a little salt and pepper briefly in a couple of batches and set aside. Finely chop enough of the bacon to get a heaping tablespoon.

When onions etc are done, add the meat to the Dutch oven, stir well. Now add chopped bacon, cumin, coriander, ancho chile, oregano, smoked paprika, black pepper, and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes over med. heat, stirring frequently. Now add crushed tomatoes, chipotle chiles, beer, and enough water to get desired consistency. Mix well, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 mins.

Add pinto beans and vinegar. If needed add a little more water. Mix well, cover and simmer on low heat for 30 mins. – stir a few times.

Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper if more heat desired. Serve in small bowls with shredded cheese and sliced scallions.

Makes about 6 servings.