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In preparation for our camping trip, I decided to make chili ahead of time and freeze it.  My chili is well-liked among friends and family.  I tend to make it a bit spicy, but the recipe below makes it easy for you to adjust the spiciness.  It is the secret ingredient that makes it spicy, so don’t totally eliminate it, otherwise you will be eliminating what I think makes my chili so special.  And, I don’t want to be associated with any chili that isn’t special;)  I suppose it won’t be a secret anymore, so I should refrain from calling it my secret ingredient and start using the term ‘special ingredient’ going forward.

I will add pictures after our camping trip so you can see the chili in action.  And, me without make-up, in sweats and my hair piled on top of my head.  It is quite likely the chili will be prettier to gaze upon, so I’ll try to just get pictures of the chili.  But, because I believe all blog posts should have at least one picture, here is a picture of the secret special ingredient (kinda boring I know, but useful if you’ve never seen or used it before).

The Not-So-Secret 'Special' Ingredient

Shauna’s ‘Special Ingredient’ Chili Recipe


  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can salsa fresca
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • a large handful (okay, like a cup) of brown sugar
  • drum roll please….the secret, er special ingredient…the sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce along with two peppers chopped up (chop up more peppers for spicier, less peppers for less spicy.  If you’re really wimpy, er, I mean sensitive to spicy, you can also use less adobo sauce, but do use some otherwise you’re not allowed to use my recipe – just kidding.  not really.)
  • 1 bottle of Guinness or other dark beer
  • Sprinkle chili powder, cumin and paprika to taste
  • 1 lb. beef stew beef cut into bite sized chunks
  • Garlic cloves
  • 1/2-1 medium red onion
  • Flour
  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch


In a large pot or crock pot place:

  • Garlic cloves (2-3)
  • red onion
  • cans chili beans
  • cans kidney beans
  • can tomato sauce
  • can salsa fresca
  • can diced tomatoes
  • brown sugar
  • chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (sauce and chopped peppers, start with just one)
  • bottle of Guinness or other dark beer
  • Sprinkle chili powder, cumin and paprika to taste
  • Cornstarch

Coat beef in flour, and put into a skillet over medium heat.  Brown the outside of beef (does not need to be cooked through).

Place beef in pot.  Mix everything well, turn on low heat and cover.  Let cook overnight.  Taste in the morning.  If too hot, add more tomato sauce/paste, etc. and/or beer, salt or cornstarch.  If not hot enough, add more chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

This chili is good on its own – as all chili should be.  But, if you’re not a true chili connoisseur (I’m not), you can now top your chili with sour cream, cheese, green onions and/or corn bread.  Actually I have no idea what a true chili connoisseur is, I just figure the guys in Texas at chili cook-offs who take chili really, really seriously, probably don’t mess with their chili by putting sour cream, cheese or green onions on top.  I do imagine, however, that all chili should be served with corn bread – especially really hot chili.
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