Chili means many different things to many different people. There are Texas varieties that only have the sauce and meat. These are more “purist” chilies that people seem to be passionate about and angry when others choose to make it differently. Mexican con carne is even more authentic than that. In the Midwest chili is served over pasta. In some areas it is more tomato based while in others the stock is more based on the chile peppers it is named after. Some varieties use sweets to finish it off and add unique flavor like chocolate or vanilla. There is also the mystical and delicious world of vegetarian chilies I will revisit in the near future. And then the eternal question of beans or no beans. Well I am here to tell you all today that I don’t care about any of this. Yes I love tradition and passed down recipes. I love all the chili varieties from coast to coast. But when I make it, it is a big pile of awesome following no rules but my own. I’m a rebel that way.

Chiles are where chili gets its name. I think that if it is tomato based, you are basically making a spicy tomato sauce.

The “hot fire” is scotch bonnet peppers. Be careful with these guys. We were sure to only touch the outside and not go near the seeds.

This scotch bonnet is wearing the Scottish hat it is named after.

I cooked some bacon for later. These are cooking in the bacon fat and some olive oil.

After 10 minutes, I added already cooked ground beef.

I soaked these for a half hour, then simmered them for 20 minutes. Blend them with the soaking liquid.

In the pan I cooked the ground beef goes the sirloin.

Before this I added 3 small cans of diced tomatoes and all the puréed chiles and water.

This is for some cornbread we made

Under all this is a box of cornbread mix. This all gets mixed with eggs and buttermilk.

My favorite place for chili is atop a baked potato. These are being rolled in salt and olive oil.

At the end of their baking, we broiled the skins with some butter to crisp them up a little.

After this simmered for 2 hours I added the beans. I used canned beans today. I threw in a can of black beans, can of pinto, and a can of chickpeas just for fun. All rinsed of course! Then after 15 more minutes, I shut off the heat and squeezed in a lime.

It’s that extra squishy moist kind of cornbread you need to eat with a fork.

Cornbread Recipe – except we used buttermilk instead of milk… and fresh jalapeños instead of canned… and added some frozen corn… and salt. Yea.


Soak dried chiles in water in saucepan for half hour. Then turn it on medium. Whatever kind you can find and looks good. I used New Mexico chiles this time.
Brown off some ground beef and set it aside. do the same with meat chunks. you could use sirloin, like I did that day, but chuck or other stewing cuts would also work great.
Put olive oil and optional bacon fat into a large pot and turn on heat
Add diced pepper onion celery carrot and scotch bonnet to the pot and simmer. We used 3 of these hotties. Salt and pepper.
Stir until translucent. 10 minutes.
Add 3 cans diced tomatoes.
Put dried chiles and soaking water into blender and blend. Add to chili pot.
Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, honey or sugar
Simmer for 2 hours. Add beans. Simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add juice of a lime or two.