Bomb Birthday Chili

When I was little, I used to get really pumped for my birthday. Obnoxiously so. “Mom! It’s June 14! My birthday is in a month! Mom! It’s July 1st! My birthday is in 13 days! Mom! It’s July 4th! My birthday is in 10 days! Mom! It’s……” You get it. 

But let’s be real, birthdays are just another day out of the year. Just because 23 years ago my mother was brave enough to bear me, a sarcastic realist who hates cupcakes, doesn’t mean that we have to make a big deal about it for me. Why not celebrate my mom on my birthday? She’s the one who accomplished something here, putting up with me for 23 years. Thanks, Momsie, by the way. 


To me, my birthday is a reason to pull everyone that I love into one place and thank them for being with me. Friends, family, food, no fuss. For the last few years, my parents have opened their house to host a birthday dinner for my friends and I. My family has essentially adopted each of my friends, so it’s one big family gathering. I’m going to be a typical Italian grandmother someday; I show my love in food. ‘Mangia! Mangia! You’re too skinny! Have a meatball, sweetie’.

So to thank my friends and family for being awesome, we (Bronson, Momsie, Pater and I) made grilled chicken, veggie kabobs, rice, kale salad, and the world’s best chili. I have been working on the perfect chili recipe for years, and I finally have it. The best part about feeding a crowd is that I can see their reactions to this chili, and no one was disappointed.


I started by browning all of the meats in a large stew pot with the onions and all of the peppers. I like spicy chili, but not the kind where it’s so hot you can’t even taste it. For this chili, I use 2 Serrano peppers, 1 Jalapeno and 1 Habanero. For many people, that may be very, very hot, so feel free to not use as many peppers. If you’re going to take out any of the spicy peppers, I would suggest forgoing the Habanero, that is the one that really packs the punch. The Serrano is the pepper that I feel is best for the flavor of this chili. 

I’ve seen Chorizo prepared two different ways: one is ground in the same way as ground beef, and the other is a loose mixture that comes sealed in plastic tubes. Sounds weird, but it’s great stuff. I prefer the loose mixture, it seems to have more fat in it which is great for chili. You can tell when the loose mix Chorizo is cooked when it doesn’t look ‘wet’, it has browned into small bits of meat. 


 Then, I drained and rinsed the beans and put them into the pot. Next, I poured in a beer. I love adding beer to soups and stews. It makes them richer and can really round out the flavors, depending on the kind you use. For this chili, I didn’t want to use a beer that had a special flavor of its own. I wanted a good beer, that just tasted like beer. So I went with Bells’ Brewery’s Lager of the Lakes, a great Michigan beer. It’s mid-level beer, with a lot of hoppy flavor and a little bitterness. I also added the garlic and gave the whole thing a good stir.

I let it cook down for an hour, and then added the tomato paste and spices. Heaping shakes of chili powder, a dash of cumin, cinnamon and oregano. Then, the tiniest titch of cocoa powder. It adds a great flavor to offset the spice, but don’t add too much or you will just taste chocolate. I didn’t want to add a ton of herbs and spices because the chorizo has such great flavor on its own, I didn’t want to take away from that. I kept the chili simmering on a medium heat for another four hours. What I love about chili is that the flavor just keeps getting deeper the longer you let it cook, and even after. I’ve always heard people say that chili is better the day after you make it. By the time we served this chili, it had enough time to set in all of the flavors. The peppers had cooked down perfectly; the spice wasn’t immediate, it was a slow-building heat. The beer rounded out the tomato flavor and made it less acidic. The seasoning inside the chorizo had only gotten fuller and was a big factor in the flavor of this chili. I really hope that you and your loved ones enjoy it when you need to show them some love. 

Recipe for Bomb Chili:

1 roll Pork Chorizo
1 roll Beef Chorizo
1 lb Ground Beef, 80% lean 20% fat
1 Habanero pepper, minced 
1 Jalapeno pepper, minced
2 Serrano peppers, minced
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 can Black Beans
1 can Red Beans
1 can Large Red Kidney Beans
1 Onion, diced
2 Red Bell Peppers, diced
12 fresh Tomatoes, diced
1 beer (A very beer-y tasting beer, your choice)
1 can Tomato Paste
1 T Chili Powder
2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Oregano

Brown ground beef and both chorizos in a large stew pot with onion and all peppers. When the meat is browned and the chorizo does not look ‘wet’, add tomatoes. Drain all beans and add them. Pour in the beer. Add crushed garlic. Allow to cook down for 1 hour. Add tomato paste and seasonings. Keep stewing on low-medium heat for at least 4 hours. 


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