Blue Ribbons and Tumbleweed!

24 Sep

I love chili; I truly love it with all my heart. In fact, I harbor a secret fantasy about taking part in a chili cook-off, somewhere in rural Texas. In this fantasy, I have a table set up among the dust and tumbleweeds, and watch in fear as the other contestants concoct their batches of smoky, spicy goodness. They are all well versed in the ways of chili, while I am but a novice. Yet somehow, with my secret chili recipe, I blow the competition away, am awarded a blue ribbon, and crowned Queen of Chilidom.

Okay, so back to reality, my kitchen, where there are no tumbleweeds. I’ve been experimenting with chili since I was about eight years old. I remember my mom would make a large batch on Friday nights, and my brother and I would siphon some off into a smaller pan. It was our, shall we say, experimental pan. We’d basically just add a tone of spices to it, stir it, taste it, and add some more spices. Sometimes it would turn out heavenly, other times…well, let’s just say that my mother was wise not to let us experiment on the entire batch.

In the winter, I make a lot of chili. It’s a great food to cook in a big batch, as it’s better on the second day than the first and by the third day, it’s divine! At this point, I have a tried and true version that I stick pretty closely to. However, the eight year old in me always has to tweak something, just a little, each time, to see if I can continue to make it blue ribbon worthy.

Michelle’s Blue Ribbon Worthy Chili

1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bell peppers chopped (I used red and yellow in this batch)
10 large tomatoes diced OR 2 large (28oz) cans of diced tomatoes
1 dried chipotle chili OR 1 chipotle chili in adobe
1 heaping TBSP ancho chili powder
1 TBSP paprika
6 cups of assorted, cooked beans – I like black, red, kidney and pinto. Use 3-4 cans if you’re not using dried
1 small jar/can of organic tomato paste
2 TBSP dark chocolate. I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips that I had in the fridge.
1 beer – I like Anchor Steam, but have used many different beers with success.'s a secret!'s a secret!

First, saute the onions in an oil of your choice (I used grass fed ghee) until they are translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 or 3 minutes. Then, add the bell pepper and stir in. While this is cooking, grind up the dried chipotle chili using your cuisinart or pestle and mortar. After the bell pepper have cooked (5-7 minutes), stir in the ancho chili powder and paprika. Coat the mixture with these spices, then add the tomatoes and stir everything together. At this point, add the ground chipotle chili pepper. If you’re using the chipotle in adobe sauce, simply chop it and add it at this point.

chipotle chili = smokey goodness.

chipotle chili = smokey goodness.

Now, add the tomato paste. Then, slowly pour in the beer (it will be foamy!) and stir everything together. At this point you may want to add some more liquid, depending on how thick you like your chili to be. Sometimes I will add another cup or two of veggie broth to thin it out. When you get your mixture to a desirable consistency (remember it will cook down), then add the chocolate.

everything is better with chocolate!

everything is better with chocolate!

Bring the entire mixture to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for an hour. Taste it, and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Finally, add the beans, stir everything together, and let simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes, stirring often.

Serve with chopped onion, cheese, crackers, roasted garlic, or just as is!

Now that I eat meat, I’m going to experiment with adding grass fed beef or buffalo! I’ll keep you posted!


Today’s post is for Fight back Friday at Food Renegade!

13 Responses to “Blue Ribbons and Tumbleweed!”

  1. Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen September 25, 2009 at 7:36 am #

    What a great idea to use the chocolate! I’d thought about adding some to our chili, but never have. I like the combination of flavors in mole, so I imagine this is somewhat similar?

    • sunandmoonandstars September 25, 2009 at 8:00 am #

      It is a bit! Smoky with an undercurrent of sweetness so good!

  2. emily September 25, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    omigosh, chocolate chili? yum.

  3. FoodRenegade September 25, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    Our secret chili ingredients are chocolate, beer, and peanut butter! Oh. My. So so so good!

    Thanks for joining in the Fight Back Friday fun,
    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  4. tastyeatsathome September 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    I love chili. I actually DO live in Texas, although it’s not exactly rural. However, there are cows within 5 miles of my house. And I’ve seen tumbleweeds at certain times of the year. And my town has a chili cookoff. So that totally counts, right?

    Your chili looks delicious. I think maybe my next tweak for my chili will be chocolate! Yum!

    • sunandmoonandstars September 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

      That totally counts!! I need to sign up for that cook off! Thanks for reading!

  5. Toni September 27, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    Michelle: sounds close to the 3 bean chili I make. I use cocoa powder and the darkest beer we have in the fridge. Being part Cuban, I often serve our chili over rice. thanks for sharing!

  6. lala September 27, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    yummm!!! i always forget to add chocolate, even though i know youve suggested that more than a few times…. next time… =)

  7. jocelyneatsfresh September 28, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    mmmm this sounds and looks so good. Next chilly day out I shall try this 😉

  8. Michelle September 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm #

    Ohh that looks so yummy! Its cold here (australia) at the moment so I might have to try that out! Yummo!

  9. eripaige April 22, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    Tomorrow or Saturday I will be copying your recipe! Ever since we were down there to see you I have been craving it!!!

    • sunandmoonandstars April 23, 2010 at 6:57 am #

      Yay! I’m so glad you liked it! It’s really good with ground beef or turkey as well. I think I might make it tonight too!


  1. Fight Back Friday September 25th | Food Renegade - October 1, 2009

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