Chili for a chilly day

Cynthia Stone
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The snow might have been late coming this year, but you’d never say it from the view out my kitchen window. I’ve been two weeks picking at the gigantic snow catcher on the back of the house — a perfectly functional deck in the summer that provides most of my exercise this time of year — and I’m chilled to the bone.

Whether it’s just you and your family looking to warm up after shovelling, or if you’ve got a crowd of friends dropping by for a game of cards on a cold night, a pot of chili burbles happily on the stove, gathering flavour as time passes.

But the familiar concoction of ground beef with tomato-based sauce and kidney beans is not the only chili game in town.

Green Chili with Pork and Beans

If you think chili has to be bright red, you have another think coming.

This recipe is tangy, flavourful and a serious departure from the usual con carne in your pot.

If we lived in a different place, this recipe would call for a can of green tomatillos instead of tomatoes, but we are where we are, and a small can of tomatoes isn’t enough to turn it all red.

Likewise, if you can’t find green salsa, feel free to substitute any you like — that won’t ruin this delicious dish, either.

2-3 lbs. pork roast or steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large onion, diced

2 tbsp. each ground cumin and chili powder

1 bulb garlic (about 10 cloves), peeled and chopped

1 small can (about 14 oz.) diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

4 green bell peppers

2 or 3 medium white potatoes, cubed

2 to 6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

1 19-oz. can white kidney beans (or other white beans)

2 cups salsa verde (green salsa)

1 big handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Sour cream, chopped avocado, and lime wedges for garnish

Toss pork with salt and pepper and brown in small batches in oil in a Dutch oven. Remove and set aside.

Add onion to pot and fry until it starts to colour and soften. Stir in cumin, chili powder and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomatoes, broth and bay leaves to pot. Return pork, cover and simmer 45 minutes.

Uncover and simmer about 15 minutes longer, until mixture is starting to thicken. Halve green peppers and scoop out seeds and ribs.

Broil, right side up, until peel is completely black.

Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool enough to handle, rub off the black — don’t worry about a couple of little bits left — and chop coarsely.

Add to pot along with potatoes, jalapenos, beans, and salsa.

Simmer together 20 minutes longer, or until potato is tender. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

For a thicker consistency mash a few cubes of potato up against the side of the pot.

Stir in cilantro just before serving.

Smokin’ Hot Red Texas Chili

It’s up to you to define how hot you want this fabulous stew. Use a full can of chipotles to clear your sinuses completely.

If you’d rather go with just one, freeze the rest, in single chipotle lots, for future pots.

Cinnamon and cocoa may seem odd for a savoury dish, but please don’t leave them out.

2-3 lb. lean roast beef, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 large onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, chopped

3 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. each ground cumin and chili powder

2 tsp. ancho chili powder (or more ordinary chili powder)

2 tsp. paprika (smoked if possible)

1 tsp. each dried oregano, ground coriander and cocoa powder

1 or 2 whole canned chipotle peppers, chopped or pureed in a food processor

2 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes

1 bottle of beer

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp. honey

1 big handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

grated Monterrey Jack cheese, sour cream and lime wedges for serving

Toss beef with salt and pepper and brown thoroughly in small batches in oil in a Dutch oven. Remove and set aside.

Add onions to pot and brown well — add a little more oil if needed. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant.

Stir in flour, cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder, paprika, oregano, coriander, and cocoa and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.

Add chipotles, tomatoes, beer, cinnamon stick, and honey.

Return beef to pot, cover and simmer about 2 hours, stirring now and again.

Add cilantro just before serving.

Chili con Carne y Frijoles

I can’t just ignore the dish that immediately comes to mind upon hearing the word “chili.” Con carne y frijoles is Spanish for “with meat and beans.” What else is there to say?

2 lbs. lean ground beef

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 small can tomato paste

2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. each ground cumin and hot chili powder

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 large can red kidney beans, rinsed and well drained

chopped fresh cilantro, grated cheese, sour cream, minced raw onion, and lime wedges for serving

Brown beef in a Dutch oven — if it is very lean, add a little oil. When well browned, stir in onion, celery and carrot and cook 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste and cook another

5 minutes, until mixture starts lifting from the pan and tomato paste has taken on a deep red-brown colour.

Add red peppers, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and cook, stirring,

1 minute.

Add tomatoes, cover and simmer about

1 hour — add a little water if the mixture seems too thick.

Stir in Worcestershire sauce, sugar and beans and simmer together 10 minutes or so.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with your choice of garnish. If the cilantro in the store doesn’t look great — a common occurrence this time of year — omit it or substitute fresh parsley.


Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.

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