Story by Dave Eckert | Intro photo courtesy of 715 Restaurant
Chilly weather is here, and that means it’s time for, among other things, chili. Everyone, it seems, has a favorite “go to” chili recipe, and you can hear about and see some of those recipes from fantastic foodies around town online at homesandstylekc.com. But, here, I wanted to chat with the pros and get their input on one of the most hotly debated, highly controversial, and decadently delicious dishes around.
Let’s start with Vincent Paredes, co-owner of The Farmhouse Restaurant in The River Market. “To put it simply, for me, it’s all about the chilies! I love the depth of flavor the blend of chilies brings. My favorite recipe uses dry chilies, fresh chilies and chili powder. I add ground beef, like I grew up with, but also steak and/or meaty soup bones in my chili. The garnish needs to be correct as well: crema or sour cream, sharp cheddar, scallions or chives, sliced jalapeños and fried corn tortilla strips are the perfect complement,” Paredes shared.
Paredes says his “go to” chili is a Texas-style chili with pozole-style techniques, but with the familiarity of the ground beef and chili powder he grew up with in Kansas City. “When I was in school, I was learning classical French cuisine while working under an Italian chef from New York who was trained by German chefs, so my training is extensive and broad. But the more I learned about foods from other cultures, the more I began to miss the simple delicious things I grew up eating. It was only natural that when I wanted to create my own chili recipe, I turned to a variety of techniques and flavors,” Paredes said.
For even more flavor, and a little texture, too, Paredes says to add char-grilled corn kernels to the chili to lend a sweet bite throughout your chili. Sounds great. I can’t wait to try it myself.
The same goes for Kelly Conwell’s chili. Conwell, Executive Chef at 715 Restaurant in Lawrence, says her favorite chili is a Midwestern chili, but she appreciates the versatility and different regional styles of chili as well. “Add chicken and you’ve got a white chili, or Southern chili without beans, or Southeast chili by adding in spaghetti, bell peppers or jalapeño, or chilies to make it spicier. I think if you grew up eating it a certain way, the way your mom made it and how she was shown, it says things about your family,” Conwell stated.
Conwell says her mom’s chili always had cheese, sour cream, and saltines, as add-ons, but as a chef, she’s upped her cheese game to a higher quality cheese to better enhance the chili. And she gave me a few other tips as well. “Always strain the pot after cooking the beef, even with a leaner beef/pork, to make sure your chili is less greasy. I use grocery store spiced seasoned beans. I also like to use V8 because it naturally has so much flavor to it,” Conwell said.
Finally, a chat with a chef who grew up eating, and loving, his grandmother’s chili, and who has spent a lifetime trying to replicate it. Brandon West, co-owner and chef at the excellent Lula Southern Cookhouse says over the years, he says he’s made dozens, maybe hundreds, of chili recipes trying to recapture his grandmother’s chili magic, but it wasn’t until this version, which he calls “Creolebilly Chili,” that West was truly satisfied. “This Chili is my own. I don’t have to criticize myself and wonder why I couldn’t make it like hers. I used tough cuts of meat that have more connective tissue and flavor. The dark turkey meat and the smoke are great additions. I used the holy trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery) instead of tomatoes. I replaced cumin and chili powder with creole flavors. I added beer with flavor in place of just any ole’ beer. In the end, I wound up with a chili I’m happy with. People call me “country” so I thought I’d call it “Hillbilly Chili,” but with the Creole influences, I thought “Creolebilly Chili” would be more appropriate,” West said.
You’ll find West’s “Creolebilly Chili” recipe along with Conwell’s, Paredes’, and those aforementioned fantastic foodies’ versions below. Meantime, here’s to your favorite chili. May it fill you up and keep you warm as winter fast approaches.
Crane Brewing Company / Christopher Meyers
I typically make it on the stove top in my stock pot or in our large crock pot. Meats go in first with some beef stock. Then the veggies. I like a lot of different colors and textures. Diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and green chilies. I like a variety of heat and flavor. Green Hatch, Anaheim, Poblano, Serrano, jalapeño, etc. Onions, garlic, corn, a little carrot, and of course chili beans! They all cook down into something special.
Spices and seasoning? There are a lot options over just the typical red chili powder. You can find some great blends of dried pepper powders and flakes. Finely ground coffee, cocoa powder, and a little cinnamon can add some more depth. Peanut Butter? Yep, just a small dallop can add some richness.
I like my chili to end up on the soupier end of the spectrum. Top with shredded cheese, fresh onions, fritos, avocado, fresh radishes, or whatever sounds good. Hot buttery cornbread on the side!
The beer of choice can change with preference. Most folks go for something rich like a Stout. One of my “go to” beers is Crane’s Beet Weiss. To me, it is one of our best beers to pair with charcuterie or barbecue and it goes well with chili too. The rich earthiness, the nice color, and the sweetness all work well.
Lastly, Meyers says, get the family involved. “Making chili or soup is something fun to do with the family. The kids love helping. Plus, you get great smells in the kitchen while it cooks. I think I have learned a lot from chef friends or having fun chili competitions with friends. Find stuff you like and learn to incorporate it into your recipe,” Meyers concluded before signing off.
Shoe’s Famous Beef Chili
Ingredients Drop #1
- 2 lb. Beef (chuck steak, etc.), diced
- 1.5 lb. Ground Brisket
- 1 whole onion, diced
- 1 14.5oz can Beef Broth
- 1 14.5oz can Chicken Broth
- 2-28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1-10.75 oz can Tomato Puree
- 2-28 oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes
- 2-15 oz cans Great Northern Beans (drained)
- 2-4 oz can Green Chilis
- 3 TBSP Garlic Powder
- 2 TBSP White Pepper
- 2 TBSP Kosher Salt
- 3 TBSP Ground Black Pepper
- 2 TBSP Paprika
- 2 TBSP Cumin
- ¼ c Chili Powder
- 1 TBSP Basil
- 2 TBSP Onion Powder
- ¼ cup Sugar
Ingredients Drop #2
- 3 TSP Cumin
- 2 TBSP Chili Powder
- 2 TBSP Brown Sugar
- 1 TBSP Onion Powder
- ½ TBSP White Pepper
- 2 TBSP Ground Black Pepper
- 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
- ½ TBSP White Sugar
Ingredients Drop #3
- 2 TSP Chili Powder
- 1 TSP Cumin
- ¼ TSP Garlic Powder
- ½ TBSP Brown Sugar
- TABASCO SAUCE (AS NEEDED FOR HEAT)
- Diced up beef steak. In a large stock pot, add small amount of Crisco Shortening, add the diced beef along with the hamburger and onion. Sauté until browned. Place meat in colander to drain off grease. Place back in the stockpot and add remaining ingredients from Drop #1 in that order.
- Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure chili does not get burned. Cook longer if meat is not tender.
- After 2 hours add Drop #2. Continue to cook. 30 min before serving add the remaining spices from Drop #3 and stir well. Continue to simmer until ready to serve.
The Slabs / Pozole Chili
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 T Flavor roasted chili-infused olive oil
- 2 T Flavor all-purpose chili blend
- 4 oz tomato paste
- 1/2 t Flavor coriander
- 1 t Flavor roasted minced garlic
- 1 4oz can chopped green chiles
- 6 C chicken broth
- 28 oz hominy, drained (or more, up to you)
- 1/2 lb smoked pulled pork
- Fine white sea salt
- Lime wedges, fresh cilantro, diced onion for garnish
- To a large pot on medium heat, add the roasted chili oil along with 3/4s of the diced onion, cooking until translucent.
- Add the all-purpose chili blend, tomato paste, coriander, roasted minced garlic and chopped green chiles, stirring constantly until fragrant.
- Carefully whisk in 2 C of the chicken broth, making sure to scrape up anything on the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the broth, hominy and pork. Simmer for 20 minutes. Ladle into a bowl and top with fresh diced onion, cilantro leaves and a lime wedge!
- I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering! Here’s to your favorite chili. Made it fill you up and keep you warm as winter fast approaches.
Lula Southern Cookhouse / Creolebilly Chili
- 1lb Chuck Roast 3/4″ diced
- 1lb Pork Butt 3/4″ diced
- 1lb Smoked or Roasted Turkey Leg Meat picked (2-3 Legs)
- 2c Celery 1/4″ sliced
- 2c Bell Pepper small dice
- 2c yellow onion small dice
- 1c garlic slivered
- 2c okra 1/2″ sliced Optional
- 1c red beans soaked
- 1c pinto beans soaked
- 1c lima beans soaked
- 1c crowder pea or black eyed pea soaked
- 1 c scallion chopped
- 1/2c parsley chopped
- 2qt turkey or chicken stock
- 4 T Cajun Blackening Salt Free (available at Savory Spice)
- 1T Chile Flakes
- 3T Paprika
- 2T Marjoram or Oregano
- 1T White Pepper
- 1T Lula Heat Hot sauce or other
- 16oz can Old Rasputin Imperial Stout or Boulevard Dark Truth
- Salt to taste
- Cayenne Pepper to spice level
- In a large stainless steel pot or Dutch Oven (Please Avoid Aluminum) heat over medium high heat let pan get very hot 3-5 min. When hot, add a small amount of oil to the bottom of the pan just to cover the surface. Add Diced Chuck to the pot being careful not to crowd the bottom of the pan. Each piece of meat should have its own space to allow great caramelizing instead of steaming which leads to greater flavor. Season with a generous amount of Kosher Salt (I prefer Diamond Crystal) Let the meat cook without stirring 2-4 min til a good crust appears then turn or toss around with a wooden spoon browning the entire meat as best as possible. (pro tip: for better browning, lightly dredge the meat in wondra flour before searing). When beef is browned throughout, remove from the pan and set aside. Next repeat with the diced Pork Butt.
- After the meat has finished and removed add a bit more oil to the pan and add the Celery, Peppers, Onion and Okra if using. Sweat these vegetables 4-6 min until translucent, add the Garlic slivers and continue to cook 2-3 more minutes until fragrant. Next, deglaze the pan with the can of Stout beer, scraping the fond off the bottom of the pan preferably with a wooden Spoon. Next add in the stock, turkey meat and the beans to the pot and bring just to the boiling point 8-10 minutes and drop meat to a low simmer skimming any impurities off that float to the surface. After about 15 minutes of simmering and skimming add all spices and a little salt so that it can marry into the food as it cooks. (be mindful that the liquid will reduce some and the salt will seemingly increase.
- Continue to cook at a bare simmer 2-3 hours til beans are tender and meat Adjust Salt to taste, add in lula heat, scallions, and cilantro. Taste once more and adjust heat level with cayenne if necessary. To Serve I add Cotija Cheese, Chives and Crackers.
- Chili is a must for cozy fall days and football watch parties or tailgating!
The Farmhouse Chili
Makes 6-8 servings
- 2 1/2 pounds Barham Family Farms beef soup bones
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Canola oil, as needed
- Water, as needed
- 2 1/2 pounds Barham Family Farms ground beef
- 6 New Mexico chile peppers (You also can use New Mexico chiles to replace the other dried chiles in recipe to cut down on ingredients)
- 12 guajillo chile peppers
- 6 pulla chile peppers
- 3 poblano peppers (stems removed)
- 1 large onion, half cut into quarters and the other half diced
- 1/4 cup whole peeled garlic clove (about 6 cloves)
- 1/12 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Sour Cream
- Tortilla strips
- Shredded cheddar
- Shaved jalapeños
- Pat beef bones dry with paper towels and lightly season with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet on medium heat; when skillet is hot, coat bottom of the skillet with canola oil, so the meat doesn’t stick. Sear the beef bones until all sides are lightly browned. Remove bones, drain oil from pan and deglaze with water; reserve water.
- In a medium-sized soup pot, add the bones, deglazing water, dried chiles (stems and seeds removed, dried peppers will rehydrate in deglazing water), quartered onion, 2 tablespoons garlic and 2 poblanos with seeds.
- Cover the beef bones with more water, cover and simmer for about 2 hours. When beef bones are cooked to fork tender, remove bones from pot and set aside, strain the broth and reserve.
- In a blender, add remaining peppers, onions and other “pulp” from the pot. Add 1 cup of the reserved broth to the blender. Blend until smooth, starting on low and gradually increasing blender speed.
- Using a medium to large pot, brown ground beef with diced onion and remaining 2 tablespoons minced garlic. Dice the last poblano pepper, add to the pot and continue to cook until beef is no longer pink; drain off the collected fat.
- Season ground beef with chili powder, cumin and additional salt and pepper. Add blended chili sauce and remaining chili broth. Pull beef off of the reserved bones and stir into the chili.
- Garnish chili with sour cream, tortilla strips, cheddar, jalapeños and cilantro.
Chili with Horseradish Crèma and Charred Green Onions
Enough to feed 4-8 people
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 tablespoons horseradish
- Pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ pound medium dice beef chuck
- ½ pound ground pork
- 2 (14-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed
- 2 (14-ounce) cans chili beans, undrained
- 2 (12-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 quarts V8 spicy hot vegetable juice
- 1 quart tomato juice
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1 bunch green onion
- Aged gouda and sharp cheddar
- In a bowl, combine sour cream, horseradish and salt and place in the fridge.
- In a pot over medium heat add oil and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add beef and pork; cook until beef is brown, depending on the fat content and strain.
- Add meat back in pot and add beans, tomatoes, juices, chili powder, salt, pepper, paprika, sugar and water. Cover pot and cook chili for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Depending on how you like the thickness of your chili, you can add more tomato juice or cook longer to make it thicker.
- Taste chili before serving and add more spice, if desired.
- Turn on medium heat and place onions on top of the gas range, let get dark in color and with tongs move around to get as much char on as you want, let cool and chop. Alternatively, turn broiler on to 500, toss green onion in oil, salt, pepper. Place on sheet tray and cook, watching and turning them to get as much color as you want, let cool and chop.
- Garnish chili with crema, charred green onions, grated cheese and enjoy!