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Atomic Penguins Feel Good Chili

When I am not writing Opschef cookbooks, I do enjoy real cooking in my spare time. I have been down and out with a bit of a cold for the last week. With it getting colder outside and with me feeling a bit better today, I decided to make a big pot of chili.

There is just something about having a big pot stewing and making your house smell homey, like a big pot of soup, which can make you feel better. Capsaicin, the magical stuff which make peppers hot, is thought to break up congestion, to help clear up your sinuses, and helps with the management of pain. So some spicy Chili certainly can’t hurt, especially given the cold I have suffered through this week.

Without further ado, here is what you’ll need for my own personal recipe of Chili. I have a 15.6 Quart stock pot, and this recipe fills about half the pot. I would estimate the yield at about 2 gallons, and it makes great leftovers, or can be frozen for later. The recipe takes about 45 minutes of preparation time, and about 2 hours of cooking time. It is totally worth the effort, and a great way to spend a weekend afternoon.

Ingredient list

  • ~15 Quart. / ~7 Litre stock pot
  • 2 – medium sweet yellow onions
  • 2 – bell peppers
  • 4 – jalapeno peppers
  • 2-4 – cloves of garlic
  • 2x 28 oz. can – crushed whole tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can – beef broth
  • 14 oz. can – kidney beans (optional)
  • 6 oz. can – tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. – cooking oil
  • 3 Tbsp. – chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. – ground cumin seed
  • 1 Tbsp. – cocoa powder (bakers cocoa)
  • 2 tsp. – coarse sea, or kosher, salt
  • 1 tsp. – crushed red pepper
  • ¾ tsp. – ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. – ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. – black pepper
  • at least 3 lbs. – chuck beef steak/roast
  • Shredded cheddar (optional)
  • 2 cans or bottles – Guinness, or other dark Stout, beer


Gather all your dry spices and dump into a small bowl. This should include: 3 Tbsp. chili powder; 1 Tbsp. cumin; 1 Tbsp cocoa powder; 2 tsp. coarse salt; 1 tsp. red pepper; ¾ tsp. cayenne; ½ tsp. cinnamon; ½ tsp. pepper. Set the small bowl aside, for use later.

Spice mix

Smash the garlic with the side of your knife and peel the paper off.

Smash and peel the garlic

Then, proceed to finely mince the garlic. Put your garlic in a small bowl, separate from your dry spices. Again, set this bowl aside, for use later.

Mince the garlic

Roughly chop your onions. See the following video from Gordon Ramsay on how to chop an onion. You don’t have to chop it so thinly or precisely as in the video. The roughly chopped pieces will break apart and cook down in your stew. If you can cut ¼ inch pieces that would be just about right. You probably don’t want large strings, rings, or chunks of onion in your chili though.

Once you have that onion chopped up, place your chopped onions in your small bowl with your minced garlic and set it aside.

Chopped onions and garlic

Trim and cut the steak into roughly ½ inch cubes. You want to trim away any cartilage or excess fat.

Chuck beef

A little extra fat on the meat is good, it will render down as it stews, so you don’t have to be obsessive compulsive in trimming away every little piece. On the other hand, you don’t want a big chunk of cartilage hanging off a bit of meat, as big chunks will never render down and it is fairly unappetizing to get a mouthful.

This is the most labor intensive part of making stew or Chili. If butchering meat isn’t your cup of tea, you can always buy convenience packages of stew meat at many supermarkets. You’ll typically pay a little more for the same meat, and the convenience of not having to trim your own beef for stew.

Trimmed stew meat

Now that the hard part is out of the way. Set your stock pot on a stove burner, set at medium high, and add your oil. Wait a couple minutes for it to get hot, then dump in your meat stirring so it doesn’t burn or stick. Just want to get the meat a little brown, not really cook it through. Add your onions and garlic, and turn down the heat to medium low. Give the onions, garlic, and meat an occasional stir while you chop your peppers to keep things from burning. If anything starts burning, or smoking, you have got the fire way too hot. Just turn down the fire, and maybe add a splash of beef stock to cool things down.

While your beef is browning and the onions and garlic are cooking, then you can start chopping your peppers. Once again, you can defer to the Gordon Ramsay video below for a quick way to chop peppers.

We want rough chopped bell peppers, about the same size pieces as your onions. Cut down the side of the pepper around the seed pod for a quick, no mess chop.

Chopping peppers

You should have 3 or 4 large chunks after cutting out the seed pod. Cut the chunks of pepper into ¼ inch strips, and then cut across the strips for a ¼ inch dice.

Once again, you can defer to the Gordon Ramsay video below for a video demonstration. Again, we’re not cutting our peppers for our chili as thin as his Julienned cut seen in the video.

You can use the same method on jalapenos peppers. Instead of trying to stand the pepper on its head, lay it on its side and slice one side at a time off the length of the pepper.

Chopping jalapenos

Once you have the sides cut off of the jalapeno’s seed pods. Cut the sides into strips, then cut across the strips to mince. We want to get rid of the veins and seeds of the jalapeno because those hold most of the heat. With the chili spices, and the jalapenos themselves, the Chili stew will have a nice kick. It won’t be an overbearing amount of spicy heat though.

Check on your stock pot, throw in your peppers, and give it a good stir.

Add the can of beef stock, and the can of crushed tomatoes, stir the pot well

Time to throw in that magical spice mix to turn this stew into Chili proper. The cocoa powder will thicken the stew up quite a bit, stir it so that everything mixes well. You want to make sure with the stew thickening that nothing sticks to the pot, and burns.

Add spices

Finally, pour in two bottles or cans of Guinness (or other dark Stout beer). If desired, add kidney beans, but avoid if in Texas. Turn up to medium heat, add the tomato paste to thicken the chili, stir to mix the paste, and cover the pot to let it heat through. Turn heat down to low, and let simmer once all that liquid is heated through. Stir occassionally and let it simmer for an hour, or two.

Add Guinness

I turn off the burner and let it cool down for a bit before serving. You can serve on its own, with quesadillas, cheddar, sour cream and chives, or a peanut butter sandwich. Whatever floats your boat, really. The meat turned out tender, and the Chili broth had just enough spicy heat, but not too much.

Serve with cheese