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A Beef & Three Bean Chili recipe perfect for the Seattle cold

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Fall is definitely here in Seattle. And every year I remember why I think it is my favorite season. I love that fall feels like two seasons: warm and vibrant on the front-end, and cold and cozy on the back-end. In my mind, chili is synonymous with fall. When I think of chili, I think of a cozy and rainy Seattle day, curled up on the couch, and a Seahawks game on TV.

This chili is something special, and will immediately get you into the fall vibes. I wish I could remember how this recipe developed, but my husband and I have been making this chili for 10-plus years, and over time we have perfected it to include some not-so-traditional ingredients that I think round out the perfect bowl of chile.

My husband was actually the first person to make version one of this chili. Then one day, we had some friends over, and they suggested that we add brown sugar to it. I never thought that would make sense in a chili, and now I don’t know another way. The cinnamon and brown sugar warm up and deepen the flavors of the cumin and chili powder. Everything comes together so beautifully, you just have to trust the process.


Beef & Three Bean Chili

Preparation time: 2 hours; active time: 50 minutes

Services: 8

  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans
  • 1 15-ounce can of kidney beans
  • 1 15-ounce can of white beans
  • 3½ tablespoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 kosher salt teaspoons
  • ½ cup red wine
  1. Drain and rinse the beans.
  2. Dice bacon, onion and bell pepper into about ¼-inch pieces.
  3. Using a Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot (I use my 6-quart Dutch oven), render bacon over medium heat until brown and slightly crispy, about 6 minutes.
  4. Scoop bacon onto a plate lined with paper towel, and leave remaining bacon drippings in the pot; this will help develop flavor.
  5. Add in diced onion and bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, ½ tablespoon of cumin and ½ teaspoon of garlic seasoning. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is translucent and fragrant, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add ground beef to the pot, and break it apart with your cooking utensils. Cook until browned and crumbly, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Pour in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and remaining spices except the salt — including cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
  8. Add in red wine and all of the beans. Increase heat to medium-high until bubbly, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  9. Reduce heat to simmer, and add the cooked bacon back into the pot, stirring to combine. Cover with the lid and let simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  10. Add the salt ½ teaspoon at a time to taste. The bacon is salty, so you might not need to add any additional salt
  11. Serve warm with cornbread, sour cream, shredded cheese, scallion, chives, limes or whatever fixings you want