This is a sponsored post on behalf of Ontario Corn Fed Beef. Thanks for supporting the brands that help to keep the Crumb test kitchen running! All opinions are entirely my own, as always.
Every season has its rituals.
Spring is all about rediscovering fresh local produce after a long winter, and eating as much rhubarb as I can stand. Summer is about barbecues, corn on the cob, juicy ripe tomatoes and peaches, and big fat salads. Winter is about slow braises and hearty soups simmered for hours on the stovetop while the cold wind blows outside.
And fall? For most people, it might be about apple cider or pumpkin spice... but for me, it's not really fall until I've made my first pot of chili.
I'm talking about big, honking batches of the stuff, because I'm incapable of making chili in any quantity besides "humongous" and "ridiculous" even though we've only got two people in the house.
I guess it's a good thing that chili freezes so beautifully, huh?
How to Make the Perfect Bowl of Chili
Chili is such a staple for me that I've made dozens (or maybe even hundreds) of batches over the years.
It's gotten to the point that I don't even really need a recipe any more. I just throw a bunch of stuff into the pot until it tastes good - sometimes it's chunks of chorizo with a six-bean blend, sometimes it's black beans and pumpkin, and sometimes it's ground turkey with sweet peppers and corn and white kidney beans.
Heck, sometimes I even skip the tomatoes altogether, and whip up a bowl of white chicken chili.
But regardless of what goes into the chili itself, all the chili connoisseurs will tell you that the most crucial part to making the perfect bowl of chili is the toppings.
My go-to combination is a handful of grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese and a sprinkling of green onions, but if I'm feeling a little extra I may throw on some sour cream, cilantro, and even sliced jalapenos or a sprinkling of crumbled tortilla chips. There really is no such thing as too many garnishes!
A Back-to-Basics Chili Recipe
This particular version is very much about going back to the basics and focusing on just the essentials. It's got chunks of tender slow-cooked stewing beef, hearty pinto beans, and rich layered blend of spices that balances between savoury, smoky and sweet, with just enough heat to keep you warm on a chilly fall evening.
So, what's the secret to this chili's intense flavour? A can of dark beer and a dollop of molasses for a touch of deep dark sweetness, along with a generous dash of chipotle powder to add just the right amount of smokiness. (If you're not into beer, a rich beef stock will do just fine.)
And while the long ingredient list might seem daunting, trust me when I say that this chili is easy enough to throw together on a rainy weekend afternoon.
It’s as simple as throwing everything into your largest, heaviest pot, and then letting it simmer away while you relax for a few hours, preferably with the company of a good book and a snuggly cat.
Using Stewing Beef For Chili
Most chili is made with ground beef because it cooks much quicker, but it's hard to beat the flavour and texture you get from using whole chunks of stewing beef.
The only catch with using stewing beef is that you need to plan ahead, so that the chili can simmer away on your stovetop for a few hours. Then again, that's a pretty nice way to spend a cold winter afternoon, puttering around the house while the chili does its thing and fills the whole house with a delicious smoky, spicy aroma. (Or, if you've got better things to do, throw the whole shebang into a slow cooker and let it do its thing for a few hours.)
The hours-long simmer not only breaks down tough stewing beef into melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, but also blends that long list of ingredients into a perfect balance of spicy, smoky and sweet that is the hallmark of a great bowl of chili.
If you're really in a hurry, though, you can substitute 2 lbs of ground beef for the stewing beef in this recipe, and then shorten the simmering time to 30 minutes. This version won't have quite the same complex depth of flavour, but it'll still be plenty delicious nonetheless.
It's the kind of food that'll warm you right down to your toes. Because, after all, isn't that what fall is really about?
Chunky Chuckwagon Chili
- Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
This slow-simmered chili combines tender chunks of Ontario Corn Fed Beef and pinto beans with a complex blend of spices and subtle, smoky heat. It's just the thing to warm you right down to your toes on a chilly fall day.
- 2 lb Ontario Corn Fed stewing beef or chuck roast, cut into ½” cubes
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp chipotle powder
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups dark beer or beef stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 can (28oz / 796 ml) diced plum tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 2 cans (14oz / 398 ml) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- Chopped cilantro
- Grated cheddar
- Chopped green onions
- Sour cream
- Sliced jalapenos
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the cubed stewing beef with chili powder and salt until evenly coated.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the beef until well browned on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pan. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spices, and continue cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the beef/stock, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano and molasses, along with the browned beef cubes. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
- Stir in the beans, and continue cooking for 30 to 60 minutes, or until the beef is very tender. Serve in big bowls with garnishes on the side.
To make this chili in the slow cooker, prepare as written up to step 3, and then transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on High for 6 hours, or until the beef is tender. Stir in the pinto beans, and continue cooking for 1 hour or until the beans are warmed through.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: American
I feel you when it comes to chili representing Fall. It was one of the first dishes I ever learned how to make, so of course it's my default when I get caught up in the craziness of school and Halloween. I had some chuck roast, so I halved the recipe here and it was amazing!
Kellie @ The Suburban Soapbox says
this chili looks incredible and perfect for this chilly, damp day!
Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.) says
I love chili with chunky beef in it - bookmarked because I feel a batch coming on over the weekend - perfect to eat as we hand out candy on the porch on Monday night!
Samantha @mykitchenlove says
I love the addition of beer in this recipe and how perfect it is for fall. And it looks really good with that grated cheese on top! ;)
Elaine @ Flavour and Savour says
Perfect for Halloween night. Fill up those tummies with healthy chili before the candy hits!!
So warming - looks lovely, and I really appreciate the extra tips for the slow cooker - the 2 will go perfectly together! Thanks!
Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes says
Yes, a giant batch of this would make this freezing cold weekend so much better!
Alyssa | EverydayMaven says
We are big chili fans! I love those little dishes.
carrie @ frugal foodie mama says
I just love a good hearty chili on a chilly fall evening! This looks delicious. :)
The Food Hunter says
I love how hearty this sounds! I'll be trying it soon.
We are totally chili kindreds. I'm incapable of making any quantity of chili that can't be classified a anything other than obscene. This recipe sounds fantastic!