Jim’s Midwest Homemade Chili

  • Author: Jim Challenger
  • Prep Time: 1 hr
  • Cook Time: 2 hrs 45 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hrs 45 mins.



For the beans:

8 ounces dry red kidney beans (Jim loves all the heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo!)

30 grams kosher salt

2 liters water

For browning the meat:

3 grams kosher salt

16 grams cornstarch

1.5 grams baking powder

For the chili:

1/8 cup olive oil

1 pound boneless chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 pound ground beef (85/15)

1/2 pound Italian sausage, sliced

1 green pepper, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 large yellow onion, diced

1/4 cup Burgundy wine

14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes (Mexican style)

15 ounce can tomato sauce

8 grams tomato paste

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

14 grams dark brown sugar

1.5 grams kosher salt

1 grams Tellicherry black pepper, freshly ground

8 grams cumin seed, freshly ground

3 grams Aleppo pepper

3 grams ancho chili powder

3 grams chipotle chili powder

3 grams hot paprika (or smoked)

3 grams granulated garlic

3 grams onion powder

0.5 grams freshly ground cinnamon

0.5 grams freshly ground Turkish bay leaves

16 grams corn meal

2 grams unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 12 oz bottle beer

For serving:

1/2 pound cheddar cheese (mild fancy shredded)

1/2 bunch chopped scallion

sour cream

5 corn tortillas (El Milagro!), julienne cut


The night before you plan on cooking the chili, place beans, kosher salt, and water in large plastic container or bowl. Allow to soak at room temperature at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse soaked beans.

Combine kosher salt, cornstarch, and baking powder in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Toss the pieces of beef in this mixture until all sides are evenly coated. This will encourage browning.

Heat oil in a large pot and brown stew meat on all sides. Remove meat and set aside. Brown ground beef and Italian sausage (in small batches to encourage browning). Remove meat and set aside.

Remove excess oil, leaving 2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the peppers and onion to the pan. Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add wine to peppers and onion. Deglaze the pan and then reduce by half.

Place all three meats back into the large pot. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, Aleppo pepper, ground bay leaves, corn meal, cocoa powder, broth, beer, and soaked kidney beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Cut corn tortillas in small strips, julienne style. In a stockpot, deep fry tortilla strips in a light canola or sunflower oil for 3 minutes at 325 until lightly brown.

Serve chili in soup bowls. Garnish with cheddar cheese, sour cream, scallions, and tortilla chips.

*adapted from Clay Erickson, a chef in Waukegan


If using canned kidney beans, add them after 1 1/2 hours and let cook an additional 30 minutes.

Enjoy with family and friends. Serve alongside a few slices of sourdough bread.

Keywords: Chili