Santa Fe Chili


About five years ago, I began an annual tradition of making my first pot of chili of the season on Halloween night.  Typically, it’s a cool evening, I can invite a few friends over and we can enjoy a pot of chili as we pass out candy to the kiddos in the neighborhood.

I started a new job a few months ago, and it turns out that they have a annual tradition of having a chili cook-off on Halloween. How perfect! UPDATE: I won Best Chili Theme with this recipe – was told I was only one point away from taking Best Overall Chili. I wasn’t able to add the fried Hatch chili rings because they got soggy in transport – that would have clinched it for sure!

So I set out to perfect my current chili recipe – giving it a southwest flavor profile. As an homage to my grandma Jessie from Albuquerque (who was a Spanish-speaking Irish lesbian – but that’s another blog post) who loved all things southwestern, I ordered some Hatch green chiles (because Nashville doesn’t seem to carry them), picked up a can of adobo chiles and grabbed the cinnamon. Ground cinnamon is a secret ingredient any many latin savory dishes. Adding it to soups, stews and chilis gives your dish that umami kick that makes your guests ooh and ahh!

There are a lot of ingredients in this – but don’t get scared. It’s not a lot of work and once you get everything in the pot you just walk away and let the magic happen.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6-8 people)


Ready to Cook?

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat; sauté and stir onion, bell pepper, Hatch chiles (if using fresh, otherwise add later), and garlic in the hot oil until softened.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir beef in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes; add Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Crumble bouillon cubes over beef and add beer. Continue to cook , scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, until liquid is hot, about 3 minutes. Stir beef mixture into pepper mixture.
  3. Stir crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Hatch Green chiles (if using canned) and wine into the beef and pepper mixture. Season with chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, adobo sauce, basil, paprika, salt, oregano, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until meat and vegetables are very tender and flavors have developed in the chili, about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Mix kidney and chili beans into beef and vegetables. Continue to simmer until beans are hot, about 30 minutes more.
  5. Blend sour cream, Mexican crema, cilantro, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin in a food processor until smooth. I put this in a condiment bottle with a narrow spout so I can drizzle it across the chili. If you don’t have one, no sweat. A nice blob in the middle is just as effective!
  6. Heat oil in saucepan – you want at least a 1/2 inch of oil to cook in. Take Hatch green chili rings and pat dry before tossing lightly in the corn starch. Gently place in oil… this will fry very fast so keep an eye on them. As soon as they a golden brown transfer to a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt while still warm. You’ll want 4-5 rings per bowl of chili – so cook accordingly. Scatter on top of chili before you add crema drizzle (see photo below).



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