Sneaky Hot Chili Recipe

This week, I won the chili cookoff at my workplace. It’s a minor victory, but I’m a competitive person so winning is better than the alternative. I learned a lot through this experience.

Chili means different things to different people. for some, it’s celery and carrots and vegetables. Others take a very bean-y approach. Some are a tomato concoction, much like the traditional chili my Mom used to make. Years back, the stress of working at a high-powered PR firm gave me the beginnings of an ulcer, and I moved away from eating tomatoes. I found some beef-based chili recipes that packed some heat but didn’t have all the acid. A few weeks ago, I added chorizo to create more of a meat sauce, which led to this Sneaky Hot Chili Recipe.


1 large Sweet Onion, chopped

5 Serrano Peppers, sliced

3 Cloves, chopped Garlic

2 tbs. Fresh Cilantro, chopped

¼ tsp Coriander

2 tsp. Cumin

4 tsp. Oregano

1 tsp. Red Pepper

2 tbs. Brown Sugar

¼ cup Corn Starch

1 tbs. Salt

2 tsp. Black Pepper

30 oz. Beef Broth

1 lb. Steak, top round beef, diced

20 oz. Pork Chorizo

3 cans Chili Beans (or red kidney beans)

Dice the steak. Brown in a skillet, and set aside. Saute the chorizo, and set aside with the beef. Chop the sweet onion. Slice the serrano peppers thinly. Heat skillet to medium high. Brown the onions and peppers. When the onion is translucent, add the garlic. Add cumin, oregano and red pepper. Add cilantro, coriander. Transfer the spice mixture to a crock pot (Setting: High). Add beef and chorizo. In a mixing bowl or measuring cup, stir corn starch into ½ cup of the room temperature beef broth. Stir the remainder of the beef broth in the crock pot. Sprinkle in salt and black pepper, stirring. When the liquid is hot, stir in the brown sugar. Pour in the corn starch mixture. Finally, add the beans with liquid from 2 cans. Drain the third can and add it. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat and continue cooking on low for 2 hours. Season to taste with more red pepper or salt.


Author: The Atomic Kitchen

Kerry Gleason is a mad scientist-turned-food-writer who never quite learned the message, "Don't play with your food." Now, he's encouraging you to do the same. The Atomic Kitchen tries to explain the science behind cooking in poetic terms. "Cooking is poetry," he says, "with food instead of words. There is structure and rules, which can be stretched and broken. With The Atomic Kitchen, I'm exploring some of those rules to help readers become more creative cooks." Even before writing the press releases that made Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" campaign a worldwide phenomenon, he had won marginal prizes for recipe submissions and food articles. Since, he has worked with more than 100 restaurant owners, chefs and caterers to market their businesses. From 2003-2007, he originated and ran the Tuesday Night Supper Club, allowing participants to sample the finest cuisine in Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y. He's a past member of the National Association of Science Writers. The author of two feature-length screenplays, Mr. Gleason won the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival award for Best Screenplay in 2009 for NORTH STAR: THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. He has since written ANGELS & ENEMIES, a supernatural suspense novel, that features some of the most unusual food selections in literary history.

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