But, William you could get drunk. You could get addicted … to Paleo Chili

This is a tale of a girl (Erin) and her love affair with chili.

Oh, chili. My earliest chili memory is going to Wienerschnitzel after a mommy manicure date at the local beauty school. I had red nails. I ordered a chili dog. I was seven. After this encounter with salty meaty tasty wonderful, I became a chilli girl. Baked Potatoes became Chili Potatoes. Soup, nah, Chili. For the next fifteen years I ate chili from the can. Searching for favorites, Hormel was a winner for a while, then came Trader Joe’s (have you noticed that we’re fans), turkey was good, beef was better.

Then, a revelation: a husband, a kid, and twenty years later I woke up and thought: I think I can do better than TJ’s. I love to cook, but had never made chili. Bizarre for a connoisseur like myself. So, I went to the stove and tried my hand. After a little tweaking, success! Spicy flavorful AND healthy chili right in my kitchen.

Here’s the deal though, I make it almost every week and have never once used a recipe. Honestly, recipes drive me crazy – the measuring, the lack of creativity, plus the notion that an artist (is there another word for a chef) could itemize their process and it would turn out the same in my kitchen rings false. I make exception for baking – recipes are necessary for baking. I also loathe baking. (baked goods on the other hand…yum)

In the spirit of recipes being of the devil, here’s mine for the Paleo Chili I made last night.

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7ish qt stock pot or french oven

2 onions chopped (saute in a little olive oil or bacon fat till transluscent)

3 Tbs Chili Powder, add more if you like spicy tasty chili. If you are sensitive to spice you probably don’t really like good chili – there are powder mixes that are less spicy, find those and thank me later.  (the kind you use makes a BIG difference. If you want to have kick ass chili get creative. I like to mix it up and buy mine in bulk at rainbow grocery in SF. Favorites are Chipotle, New Tex Mex and Ancho.)

1 tsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp ground cumin

* very important to add the chili powder, paprika and cumin in during the onion saute period. these types of dry spices need to open up to their full flavor and cannot do so if added during the liquid stage.

2 packages ground organic beef (costco)

1 package ground turkey (brown with onions)

1 red/yellow/orange pepper chopped (add after onion and spices and meat)

2 cans diced & fire roasted tomatoes (from TJs)

2 BIG cans of diced tomatoes

1 can of fire roasted diced green chile (from TJs)

Bring all to a boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes if not for hours. You can also use a crock pot after browning the meat – Low for 6 hrs, High for 2-3 hrs.

Serve with a garnish of chopped white onion, fresh tomatoes and CILANTRO.

And voila, chili glory.


True confession: the above picture is not of my chili bowl, it is what I wanted to eat yesterday, but didn’t.

1 point for self control.

and, yes, that’s my child’s half eaten donut from church. i wanted it bad. for shame. for shame.