{Recipe} Chili & Cornbread for a Chilly Night

The first flurries of the season hit Chicago last week, which made me excited for the upcoming holiday season, peacoat-wearing weather, and cozy nights in. When I’m walking home from work and it’s already dark at 5 PM, there’s nothing better than knowing I’m coming home to a warm, hearty meal that’s been in my slow-cooker all day, filling my apartment with delicious smells. Allow me to introduce you to our go-to chili recipe, which can be prepped entirely ahead of time, best enjoyed with a very dear recipe for spicy corn muffins.

Derrick’s Beer Chili

  • 1 lb. ground beef (we often use 1/2 lean ground sirloin and 1/2 ground bison meat, which is leaner and very tasty)
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cans condensed tomato soup (I prefer Campbell’s Healthy Request, but any brand will work)
  • 2 cans chili beans (we use Bush’s chili pinto beans in medium sauce, or have also used Bush’s Chili Starter)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup strong-flavored beer (more or less to taste; winter varieties work well—we’ve used Sam Adams Winter Lager or Octoberfest)
  • 1 pkg. chili seasoning, or make your own (we use a varying combination of garlic powder, cumin, chile powder, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, plus a little sugar)
  • 1 heaping T. diced jalapeno, if desired (we use the jarred kind, to avoid cutting the peppers)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (for topping)

Cook meat and onion in skillet over medium heat until meat is brown and onions are translucent. Transfer to slow-cooker and add soup, chili beans, beer, water, and desired seasonings; stir well. Turn heat on low and simmer for 6-8 hours. (We have left it in a little longer before and it was fine.) When serving, top each bowl with plenty of shredded cheese and sour cream or plain yogurt.

*This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled for larger crowds, or made spicier by adding more peppers or chili powder. If you’re pressed for time, you can also make the chili in a large pot, simmering all ingredients for about 30 minutes instead of adding to a slow-cooker.

Chili just doesn’t taste right if it isn’t served alongside cornbread. This recipe is from Derrick’s mother Linda, who was not only a wonderful cook, but the sweetest, kindest, strongest, most Southern woman I’ve ever known and one of my most favorite people in the world. These are best enjoyed with good company, a sprinkle of love, and warm honey butter.

Linda’s Mexican Cornbread Muffins

  • 1 c. self-rising cornmeal
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 small can creamed corn
  • 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 c. canola oil (I have also substituted unsweetened applesauce and it worked great)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. diced jalapeno peppers

Combine first three ingredients in large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine corn, canola oil, milk, and egg; whisk together. Add liquid mix to cornmeal mix. Stir in cheese and jalapenos. Pour into muffin pans, mini muffin pans, or an iron skillet. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 40 minutes (slightly less for mini muffin pan). Makes about 1 dozen muffins or 2 dozen mini muffins.

What are some of your favorite chilly-night meals?

Do you have any special ingredients you like to add to chili?

About Kelsey Bjelland

Kelsey is a professional journalist, web producer, aspiring event stylist and baker extraordinaire. After taking the plunge and moving from rural Montana to downtown Chicago in 2009, she took an internship at a local bridal magazine. Shortly after, she discovered her two loves—the wedding scene and a boy from Alabama. Those experiences inspired her to launch Pearls & Frosting, a dual-function website dedicated to connecting wedding vendors to share business advice and to providing intimate profiles of those vendors to future brides. By day, Kelsey is an assistant editor for several management consulting publications, a freelance magazine writer and a self-professed Pinterest addict. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Medill at Northwestern University.

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