Recently my wife’s office held their annual chili contest. For some reason, this year it was imperative that she bring in an entry and since I am the one who cooks, the pressure was on. I won fifteen bucks for second prize which was promptly used to contribute for my daughter’s teacher’s baby shower gift. Apparently her co-workers chose the super spicy chili <humor> supporting my view that government workers are masochists given that they chose pain over flavor.</humor>

I apologize for the lack of a picture, but the entire batch of chili I made ended up going to the office. Even the tiny little bit I had set aside for my lunch the next day.

I have been messing with this chili recipe for about 4 years. It was originally from Gourmet magazine but through the years it has seen many permutations of meats (80-20 ground beef, pork/beef, pork/buffalo, etc.) and I swapped out the beef broth for beers starting with standard IPA and moving through a variety of other beers (usually whatever happened to be in the fridge at the time). One time, I had a half of a 22 oz. coffee stout which I had used for an Irish beef stew. As a drink, I’m not particularly fond of stouts, and I’m even less fond of coffee stouts. However, as a cooking ingredient, coffee stout has a lot of flavor, low alcohol content, and a nice bitter note that works well with the richness of beef based stew kind of things like chili.

I also swapped out chili peppers for Berber, a north east African spice mix that should be available at most super markets. It adds spiciness and an extra punch of flavor.


  • Big ass pot, preferably a heavy bottomed stainless steel stock pot or a cast iron pot. Must be at least 8 qts. and must have a lid.
  • Measuring stuff
  • Large bowl
  • Food processor
  • Wooden spoon with a long handle
  • Containers for freezing. I look for 1 qt. cube shaped containers for efficient freezer space management. Yes, I am a dork.


  • 3 lb Brisket
  • 4 Carrots, sliced into .25″ thick discs
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • .25 cup vegetable oil
  • .25 cup Chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon berber
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1.25 cups coffee stout (yes, the beer)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 19 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped

Time: about an hour and a half of cooking

Yield: Enough for about 12 meals when served with rice/pasta/cornbread.


  1. Cut the brisket into 1-2″ cubes and put it in the large bowl
  2. Put it in the freezer for about an hour
  3. Remove it from the freezer and put it in the food processor
  4. Pulse process until brisket has the consistency of rough sausage.
  5. Put the big ass pot on the stove over medium hot heat (I use #5 on our biggest burner)
  6. When the pot is hot (don’t actually touch the pot, just hold your hand near the bottom), put the oil in the pot and let it heat up for a minute or so.
  7. Throw the onions in the pot and cook until they are softened, stirring occasionally. This should probably take about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the carrots and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add the brisket and mix everything together. Cook the brisket until there is no more pink meat.
  10. Add the spices (everything from, and including chili powder through berber in the ingredients list) and stir them in. Let the mixture cook for about a minute after it’s all mixed together.
  11. Add the tomato paste, the tomatoes, the beer, and the cider vinegar and stir thoroughly.
  12. Bring everything to a boil.
  13. Turn the heat down to low (between 2 and 3 on our stove), cover, and let it simmer for 50 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  14. Add the kidney beans and green peppers, stir, and let everything simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  15. Eat what you want, freeze the rest in 1 qt. containers. A 1qt container will give you 4 normal portions if you serve it over something starchy or two portions without any sides.