Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
9 Jan

Winter Chili for a Chilly Winter

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:


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


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

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. 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 !

    Jill wrote on September 21st, 2009
  2. 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:)

    chocolatechip69 wrote on October 16th, 2009
  3. 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!!

    April Cicora wrote on November 5th, 2009
  4. 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.

    Crystal wrote on November 25th, 2009
  5. Nothing like a dumb Texan spouting off about the “right” way to do something. Idiots, the lot of you.

    Rich wrote on July 11th, 2010
  6. Nothing like a non-Texan spouting off about being Texan, to a Texan.

    Idiot – you.

    Jay wrote on July 11th, 2010
  7. So glad to see that a real chili is made without beans!!!!! And that others agree.

    Laura wrote on September 9th, 2010
  8. Me must have Primal Chili!! Thanks for the chili recipe. I am going to cook it tomorrow night.

    Chili Dude wrote on January 11th, 2011
  9. Just made this tonight.
    Although we are Primal, we still like beans every once in a while. I added in some organic kidney beans to this and also used ground beef. No vinegar at the end b/c I didn’t think it needed it.
    The flavor is wonderful!

    LisaL wrote on August 7th, 2011
  10. This is legitimately the best chili I’ve ever made, and I grew up in Cincinnati, home of beanless chili (actually quite similar to the chili in the PB Cookbook). It’s getting to be chili weather here, and I’m glad I’m prepared. Additionally, I replaced one of the pounds of chuck with a pound of liver (my cowpool just came in and I have all this liver and no idea what to do with it). So far I’d say that the offal isn’t so awful at all! It lends a nice richness to these hearty stews, and once it’s simmered for 2 hours in spices, you really can’t tell any difference. Great stuff!

    Ware wrote on September 25th, 2011
  11. This is fantastic! I’ve never had chili without beans so the first time I made it it seemed a bit… thin? A couple of nights later I made taco meat and had a decent sized scoop leftover so I put it in last bowl of chili. That’s what I was missing!

    I just made a batch tonight and this time I not only added a pound of taco meat but some celery and red bell pepper, too. Little bit of shredded sharp cheddar, little dollop of “sour cream” (aka Greek yogurt) and this is perfection in a bowl.

    Jen wrote on October 29th, 2011
  12. Wow. I googled Paleo Chili and this was the most interesting one I found. And I must say, that this is by far the BEST chili I have ever eaten. The cinnamon is absolutely genius. Thanks for making Paleo delicious and easy :)

    Heather wrote on November 3rd, 2011
  13. Perhaps I chose a pot that was too small (typical large two handled sauce pot, ~2qts) but the meat didn’t brown really. I’m hoping it still cooks out well but next time I think I’m going to brown the meat in a cast iron pot first and then add it back to the chili after that. It will add more of a cooked flavor to it, I think.

    Daniel wrote on January 9th, 2012
  14. I must try you recipe.
    Question, is this recipe from Mexico?

    Rafael Montilla wrote on June 7th, 2012
  15. Don’t know what I’m missing, but I made this tonight, and it’s awful, tastes like cumin. I’m a trained chef, and it was abysmally bad. I followed the recipe to the tee, and will be looking for another recipe. Sorry…

    rik wrote on September 22nd, 2012
  16. Made this tonight using Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter. I was forced to use slightly different peppers, but it turned out amazing. Thanks Mark!!

    Jake wrote on December 9th, 2012
  17. Made it last night to eat today. Used Great Lakes Blackout Stout for the beer and thought it was incredible. I’d like to make it a bit less tomatoey but not sure how to do that. Much better than the bean kind.

    glorth2 wrote on December 29th, 2013
  18. Hi Mark!

    I don’t have papilla papers and I’m not sure where to find them; can I use a different kind of pepper? Also, did you mean chipotle chile peppers? Finally, If i don’t have or use red wine vinegar and rather than buying a bottle for just this recipe, can I use a different type of vinegar? Balsamic or even just red wine maybe?

    Thank you in advance!

    bhakti wrote on January 20th, 2016

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