One of my favorite things to cook, especially during the winter time, is chili.  You have a few base ingredients but you can get away with throwing a bunch of shit together and having it consistently taste good if you sort of what you’re doing. My chili is different each time I make it, so I thought I would post my current recipe and then take a Life of Pablo style approach.  If you’re not a Kanye fan and have no idea what that means, I will be changing this post after it is completed as I come up with better ideas and modify the recipe.  It’s a genius thing.

I don’t like to just post a recipe and say HERE YOU GO!  This is more of a roadmap on how to complete the base chili recipe that I use but ways to make it better or more to your style. I believe most recipes should not be followed 100% because it’s more fun and you learn more about flavors and seasonings by experimenting.. so by all means, take my recipe and do what you want.

The base to any good chili is going to be meat and some sort of tomato.  I know, I know, white bean chicken chili is delicious but I would classify that as a variation of tortilla soup and not a chili.  I always use ground chuck, as it becomes the most tender out of all the meats I’ve used and if you’re just throwing together a pot of chili at home there’s not much sense in going big on the meat.  You can use sirloin or a cut with a lower fat percentage but I think you’ll just be spending more money with weaker results.  I do use ground beef but feel free to use cubes or whatever consistency you like.  I would still stick to chuck, even if you are going the chunky route.

I use canned tomatoes.  I know there’s a lot of people out there who use the fresh kind but I’m just trying to make chili here.  There are other fresh ingredients in here so I’m not feeling too bad about using some canned vegetables.  Feel free to crush and chop your tomatoes, I’ll be over here using the canned kind.

Chop up literally whatever you want to throw into the chili.  Like I said before, it’s extremely difficult to mess up chili.  Use whatever peppers, vegetables and spices you want.  Hell, throw in potatoes if you really want to.  Currently I’m using onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, poblano pepper, habanero pepper and celery.  I only season with salt, pepper, good chili powder, bay leaf and some cumin.

I would like to throw this out there — don’t use dollar store chili powder. You can go a little cheap on the beef but spend a couple of extra dollars or if you’re really feeling crazy, make your own chili powder.  Pretty much any grocery store carries dried chilis which only need to make a trip to your blender for a minute or two to become chili powder.  That value brand chili powder will absolutely destroy your chili.

Finally, I use corn flour in my chili to give it a little bit of that corn aftertaste.  I had previously used actual corn kernels in here but found that the masa adds a more subtle taste and thickens the chili to your liking after the cooking process.


Recipe time:

  • 2lbs of ground chuck
  • Half an onion
  • One head of garlic.  Yes, use the whole thing, unless you don’t like garlic.  If you don’t like garlic, please close this site and never return.
  • One jalapeno pepper
  • One poblano pepper
  • One habanero (remove seeds for less spice)
  • One stick of celery
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili powder to taste – Usually 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of rotel diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of masa harina (corn flour)
  • Cup and a half of beef stock
  • 2 15oz cans of beans – Whichever you like

Step One: Brown your beef and make sure to remove some of the fat but not ALL of the fat. Fat is flavor but you dont want a ton of it in here.  It will make the chili bland.

Step Two: Remove the beef and add in your garlic, jalapeno, poblano, habanero and celery to the remaining beef fat in the same pan. Add a little bit of oil if needed.  Sweat all of these ingredients for a few minutes but do not brown.

Step Three: Add your beef to the veggie mixture and allow them all to become friends for a few minutes.  Then add your tomatoes and beef stock.  If you like a really beefy flavor you can use more beef stock but it will need more time to reduce.  Add your chili powder, bay leaf and cumin as well.

Step Four: Let it simmer on medium for two hours.  At the two hour point, your ground chuck should become one with the other ingredients and all of the flavors should be melded together.  It is at this point that you want to stir your masa harina in with about a half cup of beef stock in a separate cup until it becomes a paste.  Then add that into your chili and stir together

Step Five: Add your beans and cook for ten minutes.

THAT’S IT!  You now have delicious chili that hopefully you modified a bit from my recipe and personalized it to your liking.

0 thoughts on “Life of Pablo Chili”

  1. this chili looks so good! I love the write-up before as well, I really like what you did there. Writing about the concepts are so much more important than a recipe 🙂

    I was wondering if you were on FB at all? It would be amazing if you could share your recipe in our group, would love for you to join our community of food lovers! Check us out here: