Chilled, Chilly, or Chili?

As I sit down to write this post it is 13°F with a 20+mph wind making it feel like it -3°F outside…

And it’s predicted to get a lot colder!

white leaves
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I guess it makes sense that the family is hinting around that dad should put on a big pot of chili and some cornbread to go along with it. (A nice apple puff for dessert wouldn’t go amiss either!)

I have been the chili guy in the family for years now and as with all recipes, things evolve and change with time. Long gone are the days of all meat chilis and store-bought spice mixes.

It’s been a work in process, and while it’s probably not to everyone’s taste, it is a family staple that has warmed us on plenty of cold nights.

Below you’ll find my recipe (as humble as it is) as well as a link to our Dad’s Chili Spice Mix. You can pick it up from the Provisions page to try it out if you like.

We hope your creations come out just as warm and wonderful!

Dad’s Chili

The girl took off to travel abroad a while back and one of the first calls home was to get Dad’s recipe so someone could have a taste of home when they were feeling a bit chilly. Up until that point, it actually had never been written down. No fear, that was quickly rectified. And a good thing too! Now it’s getting a life of its own and traveling around the world between friends and family in a way that it never would have before.

Ok, let’s get to it…
First, Go shopping!
You’ll need:

1 pound of protein – ground turkey, ground beef, ground mix, or steak as preferred (meat can be omitted for a vegetarian version – just add an extra can or two of beans to the pot)
6 cans of beans ( 1 each of the beans listed- any combo – as available – as preferred) I think the more colorful the better!
– Light Red Kidney
– Black Beans
– Cannelli
– Red Beans
– Pinto Beans
– Dark Red Kidney
– Pink Beans
– White or Navy Beans
– Great Northern

1 can of diced tomato or a rounded cup of fresh diced tomatoes ( I prefer a Fire Roasted or Italian spiced style but any will do)
Olive oil
*Optional 1 can of creamed corn
Spices: Chili pepper powder, Onion, Garlic, Cumin, Oregano, Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes
Or 1 serving of Dad’s Chili Spice Mix from UsefulWeed’s Provisions Page.
*Optional 6 ounces of Masa*

*Some traditional blends may add Masa. Masa is a maize dough that comes from ground nixtamalized (the process of adding an alkali solution to dried kernels) corn. The flour’s dried and powdered form is called masa harina. Although certain varieties of masa harina are made from unique varieties of Mexican corn, at the end of the day, it is still just fine corn flour. Corn meal is probably one of the best substitutes for masa harina. It’s made of corn and it shares a lot of the same characteristics.

Okay, ready to cook?

Dad’s Chili - Beauty shot
Dad’s Chili – Beauty shot

In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan, heat enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan over medium heat, adding at least half of the spices being used. Gently heat the spice blend (except masa – hold till the very end) to release aromatics.

After a couple of minutes start adding in meat to thoroughly brown.

You may need to add a bit more oil if the bottom becomes really sticky, but don’t worry too much as you will deglaze the bottom after the meat is done. Just heat slowly so as not to burn the spices at the bottom.

Once the meat is thoroughly browned pour in a can of tomatoes and use liquid to deglaze the bottom of the pan with a sturdy spoon or spatula.

*Don’t ditch any of the cans just yet, set them aside for the moment.

Add in beans and remaining spices (except masa – hold till the very end).

Turn up to medium-high heat.

Add in corn if using.

Take a can, fill it halfway with hot water, and stir to rinse out bits. Move water from can to can till you’ve “cleaned” out all of the cans and made a sort of gravy. Add this to the chili in the pan.

Mix thoroughly.

Set to low and simmer for 45minutes to an hour.

Add in Masa (or substitute) and mix thoroughly.

Continue to heat until chili just starts to bubble, then lower heat to the lowest setting that keeps a slow bubbling, and cover.

Cook for 2-3 hours on low, checking and stirring every 20-30 minutes.

Alternatively, place chili in a slow cooker set it on low, and cook for 5-6 hours.

Can’t wait to give it a taste?

No need…

Time to dig in! Serve in a warmed bowl with gobs of finely shredded cheddar cheese, hot buttered cornbread, and tall glass of your favorite beverage. (And if you have room after make a run for that apple puff before they’re gone!)


Corn bread in cast iron skillet
Corn bread in cast iron skillet

💝 Dad

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