Super Bowl Sunday (And “Special Occasion Chili”)

Before I start, I feel it’s necessary to make one thing very clear: I am a Chicago Bears fan.  It is in my blood and I don’t really care much about football that doesn’t involve the Bears.  But it’s the Super Bowl, and having lived in both Colorado, I’m rooting for Colorado to win. (Though that is looking increasingly less likely as the game goes on)

As mentioned in an earlier post, I actually made this chile yesterday, so I had plenty of time to get other things done today, like my morning stretches (see tomorrow’s post for more) and a trip to the gym.  So now I’m ready to watch the game (and the Puppy Bowl, obviously) by indulging in our not-so-indulgent spread.

This is the recipe for the Special Occasion Chili, so-named because the ingredients were a bit pricey, but mostly because the effort that went into making this was significant and as a result, I wouldn’t necessarily add this to my regular rotation of chilis and soups, but for a special occasion, it’s tasty!  The recipe itself is kind of a mishmash of a bunch of recipes from other places – I think that the result is pretty uniquely mine.

(I tried taking a picture, but chili isn’t really the most photogenic of foods, in fact the picture made it look unappetizing when it was actually quite delightful tasting)

Special Occasion Chili

Note: It is really important to prep all of the ingredients so that they are in the form listed in the ingredients list before you start to cook anything.  Pain in the butt (especially trimming the meat) that gets a lot of dishes dirty, yes.  But once it starts to come together, it does so pretty quickly and the cooking will go much faster and be much easier if you’re prepared.

(Serves 4-8)


8 slices bacon, chopped
4 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (I used one red, one green)
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1-2 bay leafs
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes and their liquid
1 can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with green chilies (or another can of diced tomatoes if you want to tone it down)
2 Tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo (more if you want to up the spiciness)
2 cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained


1. Cook the bacon in a large, heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium heat until browned. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve all of the bacon drippings in the pot.
2. Season the beef chunks with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté the beef chunks, in 4 to 5 batches (so the pieces aren’t overcrowded), in the bacon drippings for 5 minutes per batch until they’re browned. Transfer the beef to a plate. (I know it’s tempting to skip this step, but don’t – it’s a PITA but the flavor is worth it).
3. Reduce the heat to medium, and then add the onions, peppers and garlic. Sauté the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes (if you have less than 2-3 tablespoons of fat remaining in the pot, you may need to add some olive oil).
4. Stir in the cocoa powder and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Return the beef, along with any juices, to the pot. Stir in the bay leaves, diced tomatoes & Ro-Tel (with liquid) and chipotles in adobo. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cover the pot.
5. Simmer the mixture (covered), stirring occasionally, until the beef is very tender, between 2-3 hours.
6. Uncover the pot and increase the heat to a boil. Boil the chili, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes until it thickens slightly.
7. Stir in the kidney beans and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the chili for 5 minutes and then stir in the reserved bacon.

Serve the chili with whatever toppings you want (for example, P will add cheese and sour cream)


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