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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 09, 2009

Winter Chili for a Chilly Winter

By Mark Sisson
77 Comments

ChiliIt’s the middle of winter and – in most parts of the country – it’s bitterly cold. Whereas most people turn to “comfort” food like heaping bowls of mashed potatoes or platters of mac and cheese in the winter months, those of us living Primally must approach things a little differently. We can’t take solace in the grains and beans that fill so many stomachs with empty calories and regressive nutrition, and that provide the “full” feeling that people seem to enjoy (I don’t know about you guys, but it just makes me feel bloated and useless).

But don’t assume eating junk food is the only way to stay full, happy, and warm. We have plenty of options. Spicy food, for one, leaves me feeling warm and sated. And I’ll put a hearty stew full of meat, veggies, and spices up against any modern carb fest. Or even better: make a big pot of beanless Primal chili! It’s unquestionably hearty and spicy, it’s full of healthy protein and fats, and it’ll make plenty of leftovers for later use.

I made this recipe on Tuesday with the kids. It was incredibly easy, and I’m actually eating a big bowl of leftovers as I type this (like with most stews and chilis, it’s actually better after marinating a couple of days in the fridge). There’s a fair amount of prep work, but once it’s simmering you’re basically trying to kill time until it’s ready to eat (the amazing smells permeating your kitchen don’t make this any easier).

Primal Chili Recipe:

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, diced
3 pasilla peppers, seeded and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, crushed
1 dark beer, such as a porter or imperial stout
2-4 tablespoons canned chipotle chile, diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Grated queso fresco, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

Method:

Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat; add 3 tablespoons olive oil, the onions, pasilla peppers, and red pepper. Cook until everything is soft and the onions are beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

Pat the beef dry and season it with salt and pepper. Add it to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until it has browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Add oregano, paprika, coriander, cumin, chili powder, garlic, cinnamon stick, tomatoes, beer and chipotle (add as little as one teaspoon to the whole can depending on how hot you’d like your chili).

Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the meat and shred it with a fork.

Return it to the pot, and cook for another 10 minutes, uncovered, to thicken. Right before you are ready to serve add the red wine vinegar to the pot and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with the queso fresco, cilantro, and lime for garnish.

Serves 6-8.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the recipe isn’t strictly Primal. The beer and cheese in particular probably leap out at you. If you want to stay pure, nix those items, using plain water as needed instead of beer. But a bottle of good dark beer is worth the tiny sacrifice (especially if it means the perfect pot of chili), in my experience, and the cheese is in such small amounts that it’s basically inconsequential (especially if you’re already following the Primal Blueprint).

petrilli Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Is Canned Soup Really That Bad For You?

Choose Your Own Salad Adventure

More Mark’s Daily Apple Recipes

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77 Comments on "Winter Chili for a Chilly Winter"

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Son of Grok
7 years 8 months ago

Mark you are starting to scare me. First the bars, now the chili. I am posting my wifes buffalo chili crockpot recipe soon! This one looks mighty good too. Chili is so good during the cold cold winter (that you So-calers don’t experience πŸ˜‰ )

The SoG

jenn
jenn
5 years 4 months ago

where can i find that buffalo chili recipe it sounds soooo good!!

McFly
McFly
7 years 8 months ago
I went Primal several months ago, and chili has become my staple meal. I love it. And I ate beanless chili long before I cut the carbs. Beans in chili = wrong (just look up any contest winner. Nary a bean to be found). A couple suggestions: +Try beef broth instead of beer. Beer sounds like it will make a chili taste heartier, but it really just adds a sour undertone. +Depending on the quality of meat, you may want to brown it separately and strain the meat before adding it to the pot. I’d especially suggest this if you… Read more »
fatehunter
fatehunter
7 years 8 months ago

Mark,

I did know you had recipes! I am going to make the Avocado soup tonight.

I have now successfully hosted three dinner parties in a purely primal way. (Other than the sugar the guests have in their after dinner tea, oh and the odd glass of Port too.) I don’t actually talk about the absence of starchy carbs, I just serve. Only great comments so far and people leave feeling great!

Holly
Holly
7 years 8 months ago
Come on SoG… we dipped down to 48 degrees last night in LA. We deserve to be warmed by some chili too! Here’s a recipe I always make that is super easy but always tastes delicious. A great alternative if you don’t have the time or the ingredients Mark’s amazing-sounding chili needs. – 2 bls Ground meat- can be either all beef or a combo beef and turkey – Canned tomatoes- preferably 8 oz diced tomatoes (drain juice) and 26 oz stewed tomatoes (leave juice) – 1 full chopped onion – Chili powder and pepper to taste While meat is… Read more »
John
5 years 11 months ago

Holly,

Thanks for putting out this recipe. I made it tonight because I was dying for some chili. It is amazing. So simple, so tasty. I can’t wait for the left overs now!

Rachel
7 years 8 months ago

Love the use of all the different peppers. It’s a nice twist from my usual chili recipe. I’ve heard real Texans think that beans in chili are an abomination πŸ™‚

Son of Grok
7 years 8 months ago

48 degrees! I miss So-Cal πŸ™ if I ever have the opportunity… I am back out there in a heartbeat.

The SoG

Dave
Dave
7 years 8 months ago
Thanks for another great recipe! I’m going to make this tomorrow. It also solves a dilemma. I got a six pack of Shiner Christmas Cheer for Christmas but since I’ve gone primal on January 1st I still have two bottles left. It was 64 degrees in sunny Colorado yesterday, but half that and cloudy today so this will be good to try. Not to be like people who are given free beer and then complain that it’s not cold but can you list the number of servings the recipes make? This looks like it makes a lot but with a… Read more »
Jo
Jo
7 years 8 months ago

I would have to add at least one can or cup of soaked beans or my husband will not eat it. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing but I’ve never even seen Chili made without beens. Maybe I’ll cut the beer to make up for it πŸ™‚

Donna
Donna
7 years 8 months ago

Thanks Mark for sharing this great recipe! This is just in time for my dinner plan. Tomorrow we’re expecting rain/snow mix. I’ll definitely make enough for left overs because next week snow on the way. This recipe sounds delicious!

anna
anna
7 years 8 months ago

lol… i too cant eat chili without beans.. im weird that way!

Rob
Rob
7 years 8 months ago

Be careful about sharing. I made the avocado-bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes for Thanksgiving and now I’m expected to bring them to every family event. πŸ™‚
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/as-if-challenge-starter-recipes/

Zen Fritta
Zen Fritta
7 years 8 months ago

Mark – hate to tell you but beanless chili isn’t primal, its how real chili is made. Chili with beans is crap. Real cowboy chili has always been made without beans.

http://www.chilicookoff.com/

annievukich
annievukich
7 years 8 months ago

Thank you for this recipe….this was a great starting point for tonight’s dinner in a crockpot that turned out to be Exceptional! The spices were hmmmm good.

Pete
7 years 8 months ago

Love this stuff. I haven’t made chili with beans or ground beef in 10 years! I say leave out the tomatoes too. Beef, peppers and spices get the job done quite nicely all on their own!

Katie
Katie
7 years 8 months ago

Why didn’t I see this before I went to the store today? Considering the high was, oh, about 25 degrees today, that would have been marvelous. And any excuse to use beer in a recipe is great in my book. (Darn German and English ancestors!)

Marc Feel Good Eating
7 years 8 months ago

Mark.
I’m going to the farmers market this morning and will pick up a variety of fresh peppers.
Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be making it tonight!
Oh, SOG it’s a crisp morning here in SW Florida, about 70 degrees πŸ˜‰

Marc

Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips
7 years 8 months ago

Looks tasty Mark. I know what you mean about chilli being a fantastic winter warmer. I cooked something similar this week but used spinach in stead of tomato. Beef and spinach doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven but they go really, really well together – especially once you have added a few spices.

Danielle T
7 years 8 months ago
I like chilli without beans and so does my husband…in part because he knows his option is to cook his own dinner. We had a huge cooking extravaganza on New Year’s Day–I roasted about 10 pounds of goat meat and 5 pounds of beef and washed and chopped about a dozen different vegies. We got creative and filled the freezer with homemade pot pies for my husband (not primal due to pie crust and gravy with flour but far better for him than the frozen, salty processed lunches he reverts to) and we made and canned in the pressure cooker… Read more »
Danielle T
7 years 8 months ago

Also I agree beef and spinach are great together. I make a meat sauce with ground beef, bell peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, tomato sauce and spinach. The rest of the family eats it over pasta and I eat it straight up.

Fit Bottomed Girls
7 years 8 months ago

I suddenly have a huge craving for chili…

warren
warren
7 years 8 months ago

I make chili with and without beans but i always use the beer. I also always add, just at the end of simmering a good sized hunk of dark chocolate. Some chili powder has coco in it but this adds a great background flavor.

Sonagi
Sonagi
7 years 8 months ago

The recipe is primal, but the photo is not. There appear to be a few kidney beans trying to hide amongst the chunks of beef.

Beer probably helps jerky become more digestible, but it’s not necessary for chili. Any meat slow-cooked in liquid for hours becomes so tender it can be shredded with a fork. A couple nights ago I simmered some freezer-burned beef in a crockpot for four hours, and it tasted fine.

Donna
Donna
7 years 8 months ago

Hey Katie,
It IS Marvelous! When you go shopping, get the ingredients. I’m in cold temp’s too. I cooked some last night and it’s awesome! I’m expecting snow Tuesday, so i have left overs. This recipe is absolutely delicious!!!

Dave
Dave
7 years 8 months ago

I made it last night too. I put too much chipotle in though which overwhelmed the flavor of everything else (and made it hot!). I recommend starting with just a little and adding more if you want more kick and if you like the taste of chipotle.

Ellen
Ellen
7 years 8 months ago

Mark!

Thanks for the fantastic chili recipe! It’s outstanding.

What an interesting mix of flavors and yes, definitely, the beer is a nice touch. Not sour at all. The beer gives it body and oomph.

This recipe’s a keeper.

BEE
7 years 8 months ago

Oh I am SO excited to try this! I’ve been missing chili on these cold NYC nights…

And thanks to all other commenters on ways to tweak, my nights are going to be filled with new fun ways to make chili!

Stacey
Stacey
7 years 8 months ago

What are “pasilla peppers”? If you don’t have easy access to those kinds of peppers, say if you live in Podunk, PA, what can you use as a substitute?

Tara
7 years 8 months ago

Stacey- I made it and skipped the peppers all together (Im a total spice wimp) and it was great! I did add a little chipotle sauce from the latin market we have here (they also have this sauce in the mexican section of many grocery stores). Anyhow, you could sub in ancho chile for the pasilla, no problem.

Rob
Rob
7 years 8 months ago

I made the Chili. My thoughts are … I found it had too much tomato. To compensate, I increased all the spices by 50% and added half an ounce of Tapatio hot sauce. Next time I’ll cut the tomato content to one can. I used Guinness for the beer, but I want to try a Stone smoked porter next time. I also added a tablespoon cocoa but couldn’t detect it. I also had a big problem with meat stuck in my teeth – I going to try the crock pot next time.

Thomas
Thomas
5 years 6 months ago

I am actually making a batch right now, and I’m using the Rogue Chocolate Stout as my beer. We’ll see how it turns out, but it might help bring out that cocoa flavor.

EW
EW
7 years 8 months ago

The protein bars are in my toaster over right now. They smell incredible!! Didn’t have the berries so I subbed a few raisins (less than the 1/4 c called for). More recipes like this that I can bring to work and avoid the vending machine!!!!!

Ellen
Ellen
7 years 8 months ago

I was really digging the “essence” from the cinnamon stick.

Today I had leftovers for lunch and it was even better!

Stacey
Stacey
7 years 8 months ago

Follow up on the pasilla chiles. I looked them up, finally, after no responses from my query. :-p

Pasilla chiles are also “ancho chiles” which I actually had on hand, dried.

Made the chili last night sans garlic due to a guest’s garlic sensitivity and offered garlic powder on the side for those who wanted it. Also used beef broth in place of beer. It was very very very tasty!

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7 years 8 months ago

[…] was reminded of this recipe after reading Mark’s Daily Apple today.Β  This is excellent reading folks and I highly recommend it!Β  So, here is a really tasty […]

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[…] And then this comment from reader Stacey: […]

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7 years 7 months ago

[…] And then this comment from reader Stacey: […]

Jill
Jill
7 years 8 days ago

We love this recipe.

I cook it in the crock pot. Raw beef and all. Cooks about 10 hours slow all day and tastes awesome ! Def favorite !

chocolatechip69
chocolatechip69
6 years 11 months ago

WOW! I would never think about putting beer in a chili. I made a huge batch last night for everyone at work since it was kind of like a pot luck day and I used all the cpices and all the other ingredients with the expeption of meat. I used ground beef instead.
The flavor was just amazing and no one could figure out what that familiar delicious flavor was. Little did they know it was beer:)

April Cicora
April Cicora
6 years 10 months ago

This is a great chili! One tiny tweak that will deepen the flavor even further…try browning the meat first then remove it from the pan, add the vegetables, let them deglaze the pan of all the lovely brown bits left from the meat and cook down. Then add back the meat and proceed as usual. Putting the veggies first doesn’t let the meat caramelize as nicely because of the moisture in the pan and the deglazing gets all of those beautiful flavory bits back in the mix. Great recipe…thanks!!

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Crystal
Crystal
6 years 10 months ago
Just a hint… this is pretty much the same as Tyler Florence’s Texas Chili off of the Food Network with like one or two minor changes. And to the person who mentioned beans in chili, it is an INSULT to a Texan to put beans in chili…beans are yankee stuff. Never saw a bean in a pot of chili until I traveled outside of Texas. Also, may I recommend Ancho Chili Powder to all in place of the standard chili powder?? If you look at the winning recipes of the Terlingua, Texas chili cookoff, most of them use Ancho.
Rich
Rich
6 years 2 months ago

Nothing like a dumb Texan spouting off about the “right” way to do something. Idiots, the lot of you.

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