Chili hits the spot on cold, dark January evenings

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Looking for a healthy alternative for your traditional chili recipe that your family will love?

After the holidays have passed, there's plenty of winter left on the calendar for most people. Short daylight hours, and cold nights can wear on the hardiest of souls in Wisconsin.

Why not break up the winter doldrums by serving up a hot pot of chili? This versatile dish can be made with beef, bison or chicken, served up mild or spicy, be featured at a Super Bowl party or brought to a potluck.

And best of all, it tastes even better the day after. So, mix up a double batch and put the leftovers in the freezer..  

Bubba's Chili

My friend Chip Capoyianes makes the best homemade bread and baklava. He also makes a great pot of chili, too, which has often been voted "Best Chili" in the chili cook-off hosted by the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office. Enjoy his chili, and his humor.

2 12 oz. bottles of Miller Lite beer

2 lbs ground beef

1 15 oz. cans of Bush's Hot Chili Beans

1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 lg. onion, diced

Jalapeno pepper slices (in a jar), chopped (amount varies, depending on how 'hot' you want  your chili)

3 T. juice from jar of jalapeno peppers

3 T. of minced garlic

3 T. hot Mexican chili powder

2 T. sugar

1 T. crushed red pepper flakes

3 T. red wine vinegar

1 T. ground cumin

3 T. ketchup

Drink first bottle of beer. Establish chili perspective.

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Brown ground beef, drain. Add remaining ingredients, stir and cover. Have other bottle of beer.

Simmer for one hour on medium heat, stirring every 15 minutes. Garnish as desired with chopped onions, chopped jalapeno peppers, sour cream or grated cheddar cheese. Chili freezes well.

Cincinnati-style Chili

Skyline Chili is probably Cincinnati’s most popular chili choice, but the recipe remains a trade secret. Here is an approximation of the famous Cincinnati favorite, which has Greek overtones and a subtle sweetness.

4 c. beef stock

2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce

4 T. onion powder

3 T. chili powder

3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T. apple cider vinegar

1 T.  Worcestershire sauce

2 t. garlic powder

1 ½ t. ground cinnamon

1 t. ground cumin

½ t. salt

½ t. ground cayenne pepper

¼ t. ground allspice

¼ t. ground cloves

2 lbs. lean ground beef (93% lean)

Extras/topping—hot cooked spaghetti, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onion (optional), kidney beans (optional), sour cream (optional).

Place all chili ingredients except ground beef in a large slow cooker set on high. Stir until well combined.

Add ground beef and use a potato masher to break up the meat into very small pieces. Cover and add to slow cooker, cooking on high 4 to 6 hours. Every hour, skim off fat from the surface and then stir.

Serve over spaghetti and top with heaping mounds of cheese and other toppings, as desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Cannelini beans and chicken combines with green chilies to make Southwest White Chili, an alternative to beef-based chilis.

Southwest White Chili

Spice blend

1 t. California-style garlic powder

1 t. ground cumin

1/2 t. oregano leaves

1/2 t. cilantro leaves

1/4 t. ground red pepper


1 T. olive oil

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 c. chopped onion

1 c. chicken broth

1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies

1 (18 oz.) can white kidney beans (cannelini), undrained

spice blends (from above)

Heat oil in 2-3 qt. saucepan over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes. Stir often. Remove chicken; cover and keep warm. Add onion to saucepan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in broth, green chilies and spice blend; simmer 30 minutes.

Cut chicken into small pieces. Stir chicken and beans into mixture in saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and sliced green onions or dried chives. Makes 4-6 servings.


Great Guinness Chili

What's better than a cup of chili laced by a stout brew and molasses and fire-roasted tomatoes? Not much!

2 T. olive oil

2 c. sweet, yellow onions, chopped

1 1/2 t. salt

1 1/2 t. pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. fresh oregano (or 1 t. dried)

1/4 c. + 1 t. chili powder

2 T. ground cumin

1 T. coriander

3/4 t. cayenne pepper

2 lbs. ground beef

2  (15 oz.) cans kidney beans, drained

1 (28 oz.) can Ro-Tel fire roasted diced tomatoes

1/4 c. tomato paste

1 t. Worcestershire sauce

2 (14.9 oz) cans of Guinness beer or your favorite stout beer

1-2 T. molasses (to taste)

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onions and season with ½ t. each of salt and pepper.  Cook on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and oregano and cook for 1 more minute. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, and stir for about 1 minute. 

Add the ground beef and another ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook meat, breaking into small pieces. Stir in the kidney beans, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and the tomato paste, and bring to a simmer. Add Guiness beer, molasses, and another 1/2 t. each of salt and pepper., returning to simmer.  

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, cilantro, sour cream, jalapenos or some Fritos.