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When The Weather’s Chilly, It’s Time For Chili

Hands down, my favorite camping food is chili. It’s SO easy and SO tasty. There’s something about getting a bowl full of smoky, spicy goodness that warms your hands as you hold it, and your belly as you eat it. Win-win.

Over our years together, my wife and I have seemed to have merged our chili recipes, which has created an amazing mega-chili. I’ve made this recipe for work potlucks and I’m not sure my coworkers have ever liked me more. I mean, someone else brought nacho cheese and the ensuing chili-cheese nachos didn’t hurt, either. It’s a pretty good recipe either way. And you know what? I’m going to share it with you. I know, Bristlecone is super generous.


First, the ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground meats of your choosing. I’ve used beef: awesome. Turkey: awesome. Soyrizo: awesome. Want to try venison? Elk? Buffalo? Sure, why not? Go nuts.
  • 1 bell pepper (color of your choosing, but I think green is a-ok for this, as it stands out the most)
  • 1-3 jalapeños, depending on how much spice you’re interested in.
  • 1 onion. I save a bit for throwing some raw onion on top right before I dig in.
  • 1 small can of whole kernel corn. If you’re feeling up to freshly removing some from the cob, go for it. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.
  • 1 large can each of red kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans.
  • 1 regular can of diced tomatoes.
  • 1 small can of El Pato enchilada sauce in the yellow can (this is my secret weapon).
  • A bag of cheddar, pepper jack, or other melty cheese.
  • 1 cup of Yost’s (probably not)Famous Chili Spice Mix.

Chili Spice Mix (I generally make a pretty sizable batch to keep on hand)

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons California chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (wife’s secret weapon)

To prep:
Finely dice the jalapeño(s) & onion.
Give the bell pepper a slightly larger dice.
Open up all the cans (I find it’s just easier to have everything at the ready once I get going).
Note: If you’re heading out on a camping trip, I’ve found that you can easily prep this part at home, and chuck baggies of the veggies into your cooler, saving you a little bit of time.

To cook:
Whether at home or at a campsite, I usually make this bucket o’ nom nomz in my Lodge cast iron Dutch oven.
Get the Dutch oven on the fire to get hot. Throw your preferred cooking oil in the bottom (coconut oil travels pretty well for camping, FYI) then dump the meat, onions, and jalapeño(s) in, stirring until the meat is brown.
Dump everything else in, put the lid on, and enjoy a beer/conversation/game of cards. Let that ish cook and bubble and hang out for about forty five minutes to an hour. Ladle a bowlful, drop some cheese, raw onions, and/or more jalapeño on top and dig in. We’re a big fan of ditching the spoon in favor of tortilla chips. LOOK AT HOW VERSATILE THIS RECIPE IS.

But you know what? Make it your own! You want to try a sweeter flavor, dump some brown sugar in it. Spicier? HABANERO CITY, HERE YOU COME. Want to stick to one kind of bean? The world is your pinto-oyster.

Let me know if you try out this recipe and what you think!