Close to Classic Beef Chili

One of my go-to cold weather comfort food is chili, and I’ve made lots of different versions already in the past few years, including a creamy white chicken chili and a turkey and chicken chili. I find chili recipes to be like chocolate chip cookie recipes – they’re all similar in a way (starting with a base protein then simmering with the sauce and spices), but each has its own little nuances that makes it different from the others (white sauce or tomato sauce, with or without beans, additional meats or veggies, etc).

This recipe I have for you today is as close to a classic beef chili that I can get. It’s meaty and hearty, but it also has a few special ingredients that add a little zsa zsa zsu*. In addition to the ground beef, I added small chunks of beef chuck and spicy Italian sausage. I threw in some red wine to further add a depth of flavor. And I added one habanero pepper.

You’d think that one little habanero pepper won’t make too much of a difference in a big ole batch of chili, but it does.

*Yes, I am still making Sex and The City references. I know I’m not the only one.

But back to the this close-to-classic beef chili. There’s nothing SATC about it. It’s very… manly. Meaty. Muscly. In fact, you can make it even manlier by replacing the wine with beer.

(And if you argue that wine is very SATC, then clearly you forgot about the cosmos.)

I put out several options for toppings, all classic, too: jalapenos, sour cream, scallions, and shredded jack and cheddar cheese.

I simmered the chili for two and a half hours, until the beef chuck took on a tender, melty quality, and the chili had a thick get-in-my-belly consistency.

Beef Chili


3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion
2 cans beans (I used black beans but you can other kinds like dark red kidney or cannellini)
3 14 oz cans tomatoes (I used 2 cans crushed tomatoes and 1 can peeled whole tomatoes)
1 lb ground beef
3/4 lb beef chuck, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 links spicy Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 habanero pepper, seeds removed and chopped
1/2 cup of red wine
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large heavy pot (I used a Dutch oven), heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the beef chuck, season with salt and pepper, and brown the meat on both sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and brown the remaining beef chuck. Set beef aside.
  2. Add 1 more tablespoon olive oil to the pot, and add the crumbled sausage. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the beef chuck and set aside.
  3. Lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining olive oil and the chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, basil, oregano, chili powder, chopped habanero, and mustard. Pour in the wine and the tomatoes and stir thoroughly.  Turn up heat to high to bring everything to a boil, then lower heat again to medium and simmer chili until thickened, about 2 hours. Add the beans and lemon juice, and season to taste. Continue cooking for 20-30 more minutes, until the chili thickens to your preferred consistency.
  5. Serve with jalapenos, sour cream, scallions, and shredded cheese.

What’s your favorite ingredient to put in chili?


22 Responses to “Close to Classic Beef Chili”

  1. #
    Kathryn posted November 28, 2012 at 8:36 am

    This looks & sounds incredible! Such a perfect winter dish.

  2. #
    Ashley posted November 28, 2012 at 9:22 am

    With multiple meats, the wine (or beer) and habanero, I’m all for this chili! I look forward to trying it soon. It’ll be perfect for these chilly nights!

  3. #
    Erin@LawStudentsWife posted November 28, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Just looking at these pictures makes me feel warmer! I love all sorts of chili, but nothing replaces the original. Cheers to the heat you added to this too with the peppers and Italian sausage. Now all I need is a slab of cornbread, and I’m set for winter!

  4. #
    sarah posted November 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Weirdness. When I read this post in my google reader, it’s entirely the instructions and warnings for viagra.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Sarah, thanks for letting me know. There is something going on with the feed and I’m trying to get to the bottom of it. So frustrating!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      Hi again, Sarah. I just wanted to let you know that (I think) I was able to fix this already. You might need to refresh Google Reader (or even unsubscribe, then subscribe again) but on my end the hacked ads are gone. If you would kindly let me know if you’re also seeing the correct posts now, I would great appreciate it.

      Thank you again!

  5. #
    Colleen @ Culinary Colleen posted November 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    This sounds delicious! I love experimenting with new ingredients to add to chili. I like adding tequila sometimes!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Tequila! I will do that next time :) Thanks for the idea.

  6. #
    Simply Life posted November 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    this looks like the perfect winter meal!

  7. #
    Sacha posted November 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Oh, boy, it’s chili season! This one sounds right up my alley.

  8. #
    Megan posted November 28, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Sounds like a great classic version to me. Love all the toppings!

  9. #
    Shannon posted November 29, 2012 at 11:32 am

    throw some avocado on that and i’m in! this looks fantastic :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      I forgot about avocado! Good reminder :)

  10. #
    CCU posted November 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Your chilli looks fantastic my friend, lots of good hearty ingredients :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  11. #
    Tracey posted November 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I love a good chili. Its my go to “quick” winter warmer meal. I make mine with turkey but this looks delicious!

  12. #
    Adri {Food-N-Thought} posted November 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I love chili this time a year too! and I like mine spicy, usually cook it in batches 1 for kids and 1 for adults. I also love the raw onions as a topping. Um, be making some soon!

  13. #
    Daisy posted November 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    great recipe! I also like to add white pepper in my chili, and avocado as a topping.

  14. #
    honeywhatscooking posted December 2, 2012 at 4:07 am

    this looks so delicious and I don’t even eat beef.. I could totally make this with turkey or even beans. Love your references to SATC… I LOVE LOVE LOVE that show! I watch the reruns and my husband thinks i’m just crazy.

  15. #
    Ashley posted December 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    This looks so yummy! Chili is one of my favorite comfort foods too! I love my Dad’s version but I’m always looking for new recipes to try! I recently started using turkey instead of beef but I’ll definitely have to try this one!

  16. #
    Amy (Savory Moments) posted December 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I love seeing other people’s chili recipes. Yours looks really delicious and I LOVE the fresh sliced jalapeno on top! Yum.

  17. #
    grace posted December 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    your chili has some excellent spices, and i’m sure this would satisfy me and anybody else craving a big ol’ bowl of chili. methinks that sex and the city will never die. :)

  18. #
    Jess @ Flying on Jess Fuel posted January 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I always make funky chili’s and my husband always complains that he wants “real” (ie beef) chili… This one sounds great– I love the 3 types of meat idea!

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