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baking prep

stout chili

Well. After three days of weather near the 60's, Chicago Winter has decided it's not quite done with us yet. We're back to the chilly, folks. And consequently, it's back to the chili for me!

There's nothing quite so cozy during a snowstorm as snuggling up in an oversized sweater with a bowl full of something warm, hearty, and simmered for hours in a big pot. That's basically the dream. Oh, and add in a snuggly pupper underfoot just for good measure.

So with all this up and down that the winter is giving us, I decided it was the perfect week to delve back into one of my favorite soup/stew category dishes: the family chili recipe.

Now, I'll admit I tweaked it a bit. And by "a bit," I mean rather a decent amount. I've added in extra spices, a bit of pumpkin puree, extra garlic (duh), and the secret weapon: a pint of stout. If you're not wild about the flavor of alcohol in cooking, don't stop reading here! You don't even taste it by the time it finishes cooking. It just adds an extra layer of depth, almost like a hint of molasses, and helps to keep the meat oh so very tender. My personal recommendation for this is Trader Joe's Josephsbrau brew, Stockyard. It's only $6.49 for a 6-pack and is ridiculously tasty. But most any stout would foot the bill. I did retain my mom's original "secret ingredient," though: the apple cider vinegar. It's just a small amount, but it really adds a nice tang to the whole dish.

This is definitely one of the soup-stew category that is always better the second day, so if you have the time, I recommend making it a day in advance, plopping that pot in the fridge overnight, then returning it to the stove the next day to warm and serve. That said, I typically just dig in day-of. I can't help myself. Alright, are you ready for some comfort food? Let's do this!


stout chili

yield: 6 servings


1.5 lb stew beef

3 TB olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic

salt & pepper to taste

½ tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

4 TB chili powder

1 (14.5 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (drained)

2 (15 oz) cans of red kidney beans (drained)

¼ cup pumpkin puree

2 TB brown sugar

2 TB apple cider vinegar

12 oz bottle of stout


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1-2 TB olive oil over medium high heat. Season the stew beef with salt and pepper, then brown in the pot. Remove the beef to a plate and set aside.

  2. Drain off any excess liquid from the pot, then add the remaining olive oil, yellow onions, and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until they soften and become fragrant.

  3. Add the paprika, cumin, and chili powder and saute for another minute.

  4. Add the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, brown sugar, and pumpkin purree and stir together with the onions for another minute or two.

  5. Return the beef to the pot and add the stout and vinegar, stirring well to combine.

  6. Cover and cook for approximately 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

  7. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and chopped green onions.

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Pick varieties and flavors that bring you joy. Not everyone is a baker and not everyone likes to cook. 


Enjoy the process. One of my favorite things while baking is to knead the dough and feel how it changes in my hands. I love chopping vegetables that came fresh from the farmer's market, brushing the dirt off the leaves, and creating with something that came from the earth.


Listen to jazz. I know this is a personal preference, but there are few things that give me quite the feeling of contentment as cooking a good meal with a glass of wine and a Thelonius record on in the background.

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