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Meaty Three-Bean Chili

If you find yourself being invited to my house in the woods, prepare yourself for some leaf raking and my chili afterwards.

You can serve in whatever manner you want I prefer it with a handful of tortilla chips, a slice of lime and a dollop of sour cream on mine.

I live in a very wooded area so that means that this time of year we are raking every spare moment we have at home. We often enlist the help of friends and family to help us and I bribe them with a nice, warm dinner.

I make chili often but I never seem to make it the same way twice. I experiment with flavors, the spice level and different meats. Every cook has their own ‘secret’ recipe and mine is not a secret but it is somewhat of a mystery.

It seems I never measure the ingredients and I have never written it down. So this time I was careful to make note of it all just to be sure.

Next time we have a nice warm weekend and I invite you over with the caveat that you wear old clothes, it would be safe to assume that you will be put to work. I will feed you well, though!

Meaty Three-Bean Chili


  • Olive oil
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds of tri-tip or stew beef, small pieces
  • 2 pounds of ground sirloin
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 12-ounce lime flavored light beer
  • 2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, and water to rinse them into the pot
  • 1 can of low sodium beef broth
  • 3 cans of beans of your choice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 Hungarian paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. In a very large pot add the olive oil and set the heat to medium.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and celery with a pinch of salt to 'sweat' them. When they’re translucent and tender (about 3 minutes) add the meat and cook until browned.
  3. Add the rinsed beans. I like to then add all of my spices, then all of my liquids.
  4. If it seems thick then either: add 6 ounces of beer, a bit of water or just a few ounces more of tomato sauce. This is personal preference. Some like it soupy and some like it thick.
  5. Cover the pot and simmer on low for at least two hours and no more than six.
  6. Make sure to keep an eye on the thickness and add more liquid as needed.
  7. Taste before serving to check the spice level.
  8. Add more cumin, paprika, chili powder or red pepper flakes if you like more spice. You will be amazed at what the lime beer, cinnamon and cocoa bring to the dish.

Heather Tallman

Heather Tallman is a Bloomington native, freelance writer and mother to 2 busy boys. She is also a food writer for her local newspaper as well as the creator of Basilmomma, a cooking blog. She writes about her culinary hits and misses and all of the life that goes along with it. Her goal is to create fast, fresh and family-friendly meals that teach her children and others that creating meals from farm to table is not only attainable but easier than you think.

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