Chili Without Emotional Baggage

RECIPE: Lentil, Black Bean and Beef Chili

Full disclosure: I was not that into the idea of Chili Week. I mean, I’m all for themes. It’s definitely not that I don’t like themes. I threw my husband a James Bond party for his 30th birthday. Everyone dressed up as characters from James Bond movies (except the birthday boy, who is less into themes). One time I had a St. Patty’s Day party where everyone had to wear green and all of the food and drinks were green. I’m not Irish. I just like green. My point is, themes are fun. But Chili Week? Really? You don’t want to do Burger Week? Or Salad Week? Or Cocktails You Can Make With Ingredients From Your Medicine Cabinet Week?

I think I found the idea of Chili Week off-putting because I didn’t really have a clear idea of what makes a chili a chili. When I was a kid we would have chili every once in awhile that consisted of ground beef, kidney beans and some tomato-y sauce type stuff. Like spaghetti, it was one of the meals I dreaded because it was so filling I never had a hope of finishing my dinner so I could have a popsicle. I also felt guilty for disappointing my parents by not eating all of my food. So just to recap, for me, chili = confusion, nausea, disappointment and guilt.

But OK, I can recognize none of this emotional baggage is actually the fault of the meat and beans and be a team player. So before composing my chili dish for this week, I started out by doing a little research on what exactly makes a ‘chili’ different’ from a ‘soup’ or a ‘stew’ (and to be clear, by ‘doing a little research’ I mean Googling it and reading exactly one website with an answer and deciding that made sense and was probably right). What I learned is that basically a ‘chili’ is just a stew that features chili powder or chilies as a strong portion of its flavor profile (the website didn’t use the words ‘flavor profile’. I just threw that in there because I’m fancy).

Once I realized that chili is really just a beef stew (which I love and have no emotional baggage regarding) with a heavy dose of chili powder, I felt more at peace with this whole assignment. I also decided just to make it all up as I went along. It added a sense of danger to the experiment. Will this chili be delicious and life sustaining, or will it be so disgusting it actually poisons you with it’s grossness? Will Jonas eat it, or will he compare this meal to toenail clippings and desert tortoise urine? Oh the intrigue and suspense.

SPOILER ALERT: It turned out fantastic. Although I started with bacon*, so was it ever really a worry? I served it over a version of corn casserole derived from a recipe my mother-in-law gave me years ago. At the last minute before baking the casserole I omitted a can of creamed corn the recipe called for because I thought it might be better if it had a less casserole-y and more breadish texture. It turned out perfect. The corn bread casserole complimented the richness of the chili perfectly and added just the right amount of sweet. I may have made some progress with my emotional baggage regarding chili. Also? I cleaned my plate.

Rad Lentil, Black Bean and Beef Chili
Recipe type: Dinner
Author: Elizabeth
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours
Serves: 8
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 lbs of beef roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 28 oz can of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 cup of lentils
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Saute chopped bacon in large dutch oven until crispy. Remove bacon and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.
  2. Brown the cubed beef in batches. Remove beef from pan when brown and set aside with bacon..
  3. Add onion to the bacon fat. Saute a couple of minutes. Add garlic and stir another minute..
  4. Add carrot, green pepper and celery. Stir all veggies to combine and saute a few more minutes.
  5. Pour in red wine and bring to boil. Add can of stewed tomatoes and beef and bacon back in pot. Stir in seasonings and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for about an hour.
  6. Add lentils and 2 cups of water. Bring back to a boil and cover and simmer for another hour.
  7. Add black beans and serve.


Corn Bread Casserole
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Author: Elizabeth
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 8
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted unsalted butter
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 small package of corn muffin mix
  1. Mix eggs, corn and sour cream.
  2. Add melted butter. Mix well.
  3. Add muffin mix.
  4. Pour into an 8X10 glass pan (greased).
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until it begins to brown around the edges (40mins).

*I did not, however, use peanut butter or dark chocolate, both of which were recommended separately on Twitter and Facebook. I considered throwing in a Reese’s peanut butter cup, but I figured I’ll save that for when I’m feeling really brave. Do you want to come over that night?

This entry was posted in 5 Wine Glasses, Beef, Dinner. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Chili Without Emotional Baggage

  1. Debbie Merrill says:

    Oh boy! Todd is going to love this…only because it begins with bacon! Looks fabulous!

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