Football Nation's Tailgate Recipe of The Year Contest

( 8 Ratings )

Cowboy Chili

by Michael Brown

When cowboys were on the trail, the cook would create a chili very similar to this. You can use a large pot (preferably cast iron) to go old school or a crockpot. I use pinto beans, but you can use kidney, black or a mix. The seasoning mix is also good as a dry rub for ribs or chicken. You can top the chili with sour cream or shredded cheddar cheese. I like to serve with macaroni, but also good with a side of cornbread. Depending upon how you season your batch, you may want extra hot sauce on the side, for those how like it HOT.

20 minutes
2 hours

-1 lb sirloin steak, cubed bite-size
-Seasoning (see recipe below)
-4 strips of streaky bacon (or 3 Tbsp vegetable oil)
-1 lb chorizo (or ground pork)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 sticks celery chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 habenero pepper, minced (optional - it really brings the heat!)
1 can diced green chilies
2 16 oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can corn (optional)
16 oz of Harpoon Octoberfest (or other dark beer or ale)
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp dark (or espresso) roast coffee beans, freshly ground fine
1 tbsp each: ground cumin, paprika and brown sugar
1/2 tsp each: salt, dry mustard, ground coriander and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste)


1. Turn the crockpot on to high.
2. Place cubed steak pieces in bag with the seasoning mix and shake until they are thoroughly coated.
3. In a large, heavy fry pan over medium high heat, brown off the bacon (if using) until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels or clean newspaper, reserving the drippings.
4. Brown the coated cubes of steak in the bacon drippings (or oil), working in batches if necessary. Transfer browned steak to the crockpot.
5. Add the chorizo and cook it down, stirring, for about 5 minutes . Transfer the chorizo to the crockpot.
6. Add all the “aromatics” to the fry pan and sweat them down, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to the crockpot.
7. Stir in all the other ingredients to the crockpot. Break up the reserved bacon and add it as well. If there’s not enough liquid to cover, add some beef stock or more beer or tomato/vegetable juice. Put the lid on.
Let the mixture come to a simmer, taste and adjust the seasoning to taste and let it simmer at least another hour. It’s ready to serve then or reduce the power to low and it will feed your hungry crowd all day if it lasts that long.

If going "old school" with a cast iron pot, simmer the chili in a large heavy pot on your stovetop or grill. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, turn the flame down to its lowest setting. Stir frequently to keep it from sticking.