When the nights start to get cooler one of our favorite family events is chili night. My husband, Jimmie, takes the reins on this one because we cook our chili cowboy style- outdoors over our fire pit in a cast iron pot. We make an entire evening out of this process which has become a ceremony of its own unique kind. First we chop the wood and build the fire, then we prepare all of the ingredients and cook the chili together.
Our family’s cowboy chili is built on the classic recipe but has a flavorful and spicy twist. There is also something special about making it in a cast iron pot over the fire that adds even more flavor. Once you get the fire roaring and the embers are glowing you can hang your pot over the pit. We use a simple Iron tripod that lets the pot hang over the fire with some air in between. These tripods can be purchased at any outdoor camping supply store. Also, pick up an extra long wooden spoon so you don’t get burned as you stir the chili. We also use special long BBQ gloves for cooking the chili outside.
My family makes a fun night out of this event. We take out the guitar, play music and sing along savoring both the delicious chili and the special moment of spending time together.
Find our story about cowboy chili night and the recipe in the current issue of Naturally, Danny Seo:
Here are some step by step instructions on how we make our cowboy chili:
Once the pot is heated, add the green peppers and onion, cooking until soft. Then add the garlic and cook a few more minutes:
Add the ground beef and cook until browned:
Crumble the bouillon cubes into the pot:
Add the wine, stir and cook for 6 minutes:
Stir in the fresh tomatoes and tomato paste. Keep cooking for 4 minutes:
Season with paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano and parsley. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir:
Once it boils add the beans:
Stir and let this sit for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the whisked flour, cornmeal and water:
Set the chili back on the fire and cook for 15 more minutes until chili has thickened. Remove from heat, let it rest and serve!:
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 green peppers, chopped
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 3 pounds ground beef
- 2 beef bouillon cubes or 3 Tablespoons powdered bouillon
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 fresh tomatoes, diced small
- 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 12-oz. can tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 15 drops hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or Cholula)
- 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 3 Tablespoons cornmeal
- 1/2 cup water
- Heat the pot over the fire. Once it's nice and hot, pour in the oil.
- Add the green peppers and onion and cook until they're soft. Add the minced garlic. Continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes to extract the flavors.
- Add the ground beef and cook until browned.
- Crumble the bouillon cubes into the pot or stir in the powder.
- Stir in the wine and keep cooking for about 6 minutes.
- Stir in the fresh tomatoes and keep cooking for 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste.
- Season with paprika, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper and stir.
- Let everything come to a boil over the heat. Once boiling, remove the pot from the heat and add the kidney beans. Let this sit for about 8 minutes; the cast iron stays hot and keeps cooking the chili at a simmer.
- In the meantime, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and water in a small bowl until smooth. Stir into the chili.
- Set the chili back on the fire for another 15 minutes until chili has thickened.
- Remove from heat and let it rest. Serve over rice or with bread or tortilla.