Make my chili complex, please

dried hot peppers for chiliI’ve never had better chili than that which was born of the Boilermaker Tailgate Chile Recipe with about a bazillion ingredients. I’ve written about this before, and I’m writing about it again. I was introduced to this recipe by my lovely pastor Tara Wallace at a home group. She’s a good cook, but she’s an even better teacher. Come hear her speak and sit with me at Northpoint Vineyard Church, seriously.

Anyway, one of the facilities of the company where I am PR/Social Media Specialist does a special carry-in lunch event every month and their first was a chili cook-off. I’m a very lucky grown up as I get to go to fun events like this, eat the food, take photos, share on social media, and get paid doing it! I’m going to sound like a real jerk here, but I wasn’t impressed. Although, I should say, this plant always has the best food, I believe my chili standard was raised pretty high after enjoying that chili Tara made way back when. There was one standout white chicken chili at the cook-off, but the regular chili was pretty boring. How could this be? Chili is supposed to be a standout food.

Complex chili

Now I understand many of you are committed to a particular recipe or just wing it. And I’m all for winging it, but I also love a good recipe to base my cooking and personally prefer complex chili: chili beans, black beans, corn, sweet peppers, hot peppers, fresh tomatoes, bacon, sausage, etc. … and this time I even put a leek in there. (Feel free to make jokes about taking a leek in the chili. Dan certainly did.) And it was really good. It was a giant pot and I planned to freeze some of it, but we’re down to only about 4 leftover cups in a week’s time. I guess I’ll just have to make it again.

onionsAnd one of the best things about the chili this time was that nearly all of it was homegrown or locally sourced.

Not Simple Chili


  • 2 pounds ground grass-fed beef (buy it at DC Meats preferably)
  • 1 pound loose Italian sausage (buy it at DC Meats preferably)
  • 2 15 oz. cans chili beans
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 15 oz. can chili beans in spicy sauce
  • 2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice (or the equivalent in chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 large (or several small) onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • Corn of two cooked ears or 1 can
  • 2 green/red/yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2-3 dried jalapeno/serrano peppers, chopped (based on your heat preference)
  • 3-4 sliced of cooked bacon, crumbled (buy it at DC Meats preferably)DC Meats bacon
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup beer (I did home-brewed imperial stout)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (start with about 1 teaspoon of each)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook ground beef and sausage until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve.