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

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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