In my experience, people usually fall into two camps when it comes to chili: those who staunchly believe that chili isn’t chili without meat (or with beans, for that matter)… let’s call them Texans, and those who embrace any kind of hot, hearty stew as soon as temperatures start dropping.
I’m in the latter group, and while some might argue that this three-bean chili is actually a bean stew, all I know is it’s the perfect recipe to have simmering away on a cold day.
It appears on page 142 of my book, The New Camp Cookbook, and while it’s been devoured on many a camping trip, it actually goes back further than that — to those prime years of raucous snowboard trips with friends.
After a long day of being out in a blizzard (because we all loved to chase the storms), we’d regroup in our “party” cabin (the classic mountain type with woodsy-themed bedspreads and shag carpet, neither of which had been replaced since 1975) and make a massive pot of apres-ski chili to go with our whiskey and hot cocoa.
It was easy, it was filling, and it was cheap. (Not to mention, you can’t go wrong with a one-pot meal.)
Sometimes we would throw in a huge handful of ground beef or pork shoulder (or even short ribs or bison, if we were feeling fancy), but the base recipe — this one below — has so much flavor on its own that you almost don’t miss the meat. (I say almost because my husband still likes to have meat in his chili.)
One of the keys to a robust, fragrant, meatless chili is using a wide variety of chile peppers (not simply chili powder) and adding some of that deliciously assertive adobo sauce into the broth.
The other trick? Beer.
Pick wisely, friends. The type of beer you choose will elevate the flavor of the chili in such a way that it will, inevitably, become your secret ingredient.
I prefer stouts (especially chocolate or coffee stouts) for their deep maltiness, but red ales are nice for the touch of sweetness they bring to all the spice. Hoppy beers, on the other hand, will enhance the heat of the peppers.
(Side note: I used Wild Ride Brew’s Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter this time around, as that was the only dark beer I had in the fridge, and wow… possibly my new favorite secret ingredient!)
Serve this chili with a heaping of your favorite toppings, along with the above mentioned beer, and you’ll have a house full of happy campers.
If you like the sound of this dish and want to see what else I’ve cooked up in The New Camp Cookbook, continue past the recipe to learn how you can win one of three signed copies! (Stocking stuffer, perhaps, or a gift to yourself?)
Five-Alarm Three-Bean Chili
Recipe excerpted from The New Camp Cookbook by Linda Ly (Voyageur Press, 2017)
Makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, minced
1 Anaheim pepper, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced, plus 2 tablespoons sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Sour cream, for serving
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for serving
Sliced scallions, for serving
In a stockpot over medium-high heat, swirl in the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in all of the peppers, adobo sauce, tomato paste, sugar, cumin, and oregano and cook until the peppers are crisp-tender and the mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the tomatoes, broth, and beer and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add all of the beans and continue simmering for 10 minutes more unit the beans are heated through.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a handful of cheese and scallions on top.
It’s Giveaway Time!
Want to win a personally signed copy of The New Camp Cookbook? I’m teaming up with my publisher, Voyageur Press, to give away three copies to three happy campers! Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.
- Giveaway begins November 17, 2018 and ends November 24, 2018.
- No purchase is necessary.
- Only US residents ages 18 and older are eligible to enter.
- Three entries allowed per person.
- Odds of winning are based on number of entries received.
- Three winners will be drawn at random and notified via email.
- If winner does not respond within 48 hours after time of contact, that entry will be forfeited and a new winner will be drawn.
Craving More Chili?
You might also like my recipe for Drunken Pumpkin Chili. It features another one of my favorite chili ingredients… black coffee!