Have you ever noticed how defensive people get when they talk about chili? It’s a very personal matter. For some, chili is only chili if it’s made with venison, ground turkey or beef. For others, it’s a trifecta of beans, pumpkin or roasted vegetables. Some like it with jalapeños or even peanut butter and others guard their secret ingredients with pride.
It’s a rather territorial dish and I suppose it’s the reason we enjoy chili contests and chili-themed parties. Because what one group of people could ever possibly agree on the same style of chili?
Where I grew up, chili wasn’t served in bowls with sour cream and beans, but ladled over spaghetti noodles and piled high with onions and a mountain of shredded cheese. They called it a “three-way with onions” and it was considered it’s own food group in my town. The chili consisted solely of beef and spices, was thin and runny and was also served on hotdogs to make “coneys.” You knew the ladies who worked the chili parlor by name and you also knew if you openly admitted to not liking their chili it’d be as bad as saying “bomb” on an airplane.
While I’ll admit this style of chili tastes great every once in awhile, say around 1:00 a.m., it’s not the hearty chili I crave on a cold weather night.
Which is where this recipe for Hearty Beef Chili, also known as THE BEST CHILI EVER, comes in. A friend of mine introduced me to the origins of this chili recipe about five years ago and with a few tweaks here and there it’s become a household favorite. We like to make the inaugural pot of chili every Halloween as we wait for the trick-or-treaters that never come (hey, more chili and pumpkin beer for us!)
I highly recommend you adopt this recipe as your go-to, crowd-pleasing, game-day, Sunday-night, the-neighbors-are-coming chili. Here’s why: It has the perfect level of spice thanks to the fire roasted tomatoes and chili powder that will please spice-seekers without overwhelming big wusses like me. The cinnamon and cocoa powder make it incredibly flavorful and memorable while the cilantro adds a level of freshness that cools the palette. Topped with a dollop of creamy greek yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese and you’ve got yourself the perfect bowl of chili that is sure to please the masses.
I can assure you this is one recipe you’ll be passing around to your friends and family for years to come. Especially if you serve it with a side of honey cornbread!
Hearty Beef Chili with Cinnamon and Cilantro
*originally inspired by New Woman’s Day Cookbook
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3, 14 oz. cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 beer, I prefer a Pumpkin ale, Porter or Stout
- 1/3 cup chili powder**
- 3 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
- 3 cans black beans or any combination of black beans, pinto beans and kidney beans.
- 1/2 cup cilantro and some chopped for garnish
- Optional Garnish: plain greek yogurt or sour cream and shredded cheese
**Note: I'm obsessed with Mountain Rose Herbs' Chili Powder Blend. It's a Certified Organic blend of paprika, garlic, cayenne, sea salt and herbs and it's so rich in flavor. I highly recommend them for all your dried herb and spice needs!
- In a large dutch oven or pot, heat oil and brown the beef.
- Once the beef is browned, drain, place into a separate bowl and set aside.
- Add onions to pot and cook about 5 -7 minutes until softened.
- Add tomatoes, 2 cups water and the rest of the ingredients, except the beans and cilantro.
- Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2 hours.
- Lastly, add beans and cilantro and stir until heated through. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
To serve, ladle chili into a bowl and top with a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro and serve with a warm piece of cornbread. Enjoy!