The almost-vegetarian-except-for-the-bacon-and-chicken-stock chili

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March 18, 2013 by productoverprocessed

“Chili” is one of those words I’ve always been reluctant to use in a public forum.  I never know when a chili purist is lurking about, just waiting for me to mutter the words “beans” or “beefless” so that he/she can emerge from the shadows and defend the honor of that sacred food.  If chili were a French or Italian food, the name would be regulated, only used for a precise blend of ingredients from a specific region.  Alas, this is America, so arguments about the relative chili-ness of a bowl of chili are relegated to the comment sections of food blogs.

Personally, I don’t care what you call it–I love a bowl of spicy soup flavored with chili peppers and tomatoes, garnished with beans (or not) and meat (or not).  The variation I’ve been making lately gets its heartiness from pinto beans and lots of peppers, so it doesn’t need the meat (except for a little bacon garnish on top).  It has that special quality of all of my favorite foods: it makes yer whole body warm.


It’s also great because it’s a one-pot meal, and it’s fun to serve to friends.  So at last week’s weekly Saturday let’s-humor-Scott-by-letting-him-cook party, I made “chili.”  Lucky for me, my friends are not chili purists, and everyone was satisfied.  The recipe, which I adapted from a sort of chili “master recipe” at The Kitchn, is below.

Scott’s almost-vegetarian-except-for-the-bacon-and-chicken-stock chili

Serves 8-10

5 or 6 strips bacon

1 large onion, diced

1 teaspoon salt

1 red pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 poblano peppers, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 cup dark beer, such as Smithwick’s

3 cups homemade chicken stock

3 cups cooked pinto beans

2 15 oz cans good quality diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

Optional garnish (we used grated smoked gouda and oyster crackers)


1. Cook the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy.  Remove the bacon from the pot and drain on paper towels.

2. Saute onions in the bacon fat until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt.

3. Add all peppers.  Cook until softened, 5-8 minutes.

4. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables and add the garlic.  Saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds) and then stir into vegetables.

5. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables and add the chili powder and cayenne.  Toast for 30 seconds, then stir into vegetables.

6. Deglaze the pot with the beer, scraping up the bottom of the pot with a flat-edged wooden spoon.  Cook until beer is almost evaporated.

7. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

8.  Add beans and tomatoes and simmer for an additional ten minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

9.  Serve in bowls garnished with reserved bacon, oyster crackers, and grated cheese.


The only thing better than the chili was the dessert: homemade chocolate chip cookies adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, and homemade vanilla bean ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.  Both books are amazing, and provide plenty of dessert recipes perfect for entertaining.


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