I grew up in SoCal and am new to Eureka, so being in the middle of all the redwoods and experiencing all this rain is a new experience for me. But it’s awesome to experience this one month into fall, which is my favorite time of the year.
Fall is a soothing season to me because nature is changing its colors into golden oranges, yellows and reds. The high temperatures of the previous season have finally tempered down (I’ve lived in hot cities across the country) so I get to go play in the kitchen and create soups, chilis, sauces and everything in between for my cookbook. Oh, and football season is underway so my vocal chords are in full swing for my boys — the Green Bay Packers.
One of the things I found very quickly when I moved here were the local farmer’s markets that could easily inspire me on a weekly basis. I’m working on combining those local flavors into my recipes. For chili con zesty, I incorporated local vegetables, as well a local beer.
The chili has an enticing aroma as it simmers and as fills your kitchen, you’ll become excited with anticipation for that warm bowl once it’s finished cooking. The color is a rich, deep red that draws you in and with each bite, you’ll be filled with veggies, meat, beans and hearty tomatoes. The layers of flavors will leave you wanting another spoonful as you’re digging in with just enough kick to each bite because of the spice blends I use, but not an overpowering heat wave that will overtake your pallet. The beer and tomatoes blend well together with the flavors and to temper it down at the end, add a dollop of sour cream. One of the best parts (in my opinion), is that even though there is beer in the recipe, it can be paired with either your favorite beer at the end or even a nice glass of merlot, cabernet or a smooth red blend — my aunt (and dedicated taste-tester) said a glass of red blend complements the chili perfectly.
I hope you enjoy this chili as much as I enjoyed creating this recipe. Live zestier.
Chili Con Zesty
1 pound ground beef
1 12-fluid ounce bottle Lost Coast Great White (Corona or Heineken work as well)
3 14.5-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15.25-ounce can kidney beans (50% less sodium if possible)
1 15.25-ounce can white beans (50% less sodium if possible)
1 15-ounce can black beans
1 4-ounce can mild green chilies
1½ cups water
1 large sweet (or yellow) onion, diced small
1 large orange (or red) bell pepper, diced small
2 large carrots (about ½ cup), diced small
2-3 medium jalapeños, one seeded and minced, one seeded and cut in half (the other is optional for those of you who likes chili extra spicy — seed and mince)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cumin
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2½ teaspoons paprika
2½ teaspoons dry basil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoons black pepper (plus extra ¼ teaspoon for seasoning for meat)
¾ teaspoon salt (plus extra ½ teaspoon for seasoning for meat and onions)
In a skillet, cook the ground beef and season with ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper; drain fat and set aside.
In a large soup pot, on medium-low heat, drizzle the olive oil on the bottom and cook diced onions with ¼ teaspoon of salt until translucent (about five minutes). Add diced bell peppers and carrots and continue to cook for an additional five minutes (carrots will be al dente). Add minced garlic, can of chilies and one fresh minced jalapeños (adjust less or more per your desired spice-level — use only half of a jalapeño for those who don’t want too spicy (keep in mind the seasonings will have a kick) and use the entire jalapeño for those who want it extra spicy); stir. Slowly, stir in beer (bring heat to medium-high), bring to boil.
Rinse all beans before adding to the vegetable and beer mixture. Add cooked ground beef, cans of tomatoes, tomato sauces, 1 cup of water, halved jalapeño, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika, dry basil, garlic powder, onion powder, 1½ teaspoons black pepper and ¾ teaspoon salt; bring to boil.
Lower heat to medium-low and simmer chili for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally — halfway add the last ½ cup of water, additional ¼ cup if chili consistency is too thick. Pull out halved jalapeño skins and discard.
Serve with cheesy bread or tortilla chips.
Suggested toppings: Sour cream, cheddar cheese, chives and roughly chopped cilantro or parsley.