Chest Hair Chili


Ahhh, Superbowl chili.  Yesterday I posted about White Turcken Chili, a lighter savory chili with bright lime and cilantro.  It paired perfectly with the slightly acidic Pinot Grigio that I sipped whilst nibbling on garlic bread and pretending that there wasn’t a football game blaring in the basement.  Today, you get the yang to that yin.  This is chili dog chili.  This is a beer swilling, big belching, letting it all hang out kind of chili.  This is the man’s man of chilis. Yesterday’s chili is perfect for a ladies’ poker night.  Today’s chili is more about tailgating with the guys while Axl shares his secrets about Paradise City  and you contemplate whether buying three two-fours was enough….for the four of you.

This is rich, dark and tomatoey chili.  This is firecracker hot and smoky sweet chili.  It’s meaty and beefy chili.  It’s macho chili.  This is the chili that will finally put some hair on the scrawny chest of that kitten-faced bro of yours who calls himself “Courtland” and likes to read poetry.  A couple of bites and he’ll be chest-bumping Big Duke – and on purpose this time.  Oooh yeah.  That’s Chest Hair Chili, alright.

Chest Hair Chili

Serves about 8 regular people, or 4 guys trying to prove how tough they are because they’re still pissy about losing on all-you-can-eat wing night

  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 each of sweet red and yellow peppers
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers *
  • 1/2 lb streaky bacon
  • 1 kg lean ground beef
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1.2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder **
  • 1 tbsp Mexican chili powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika ***
  • 1 can (5.5 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 cans (19oz) kidney beans
  • 1 can (19oz) black beans
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnish

  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese 
  • Sliced scallions/green onions/chives
  • Chopped fresh tomato
  • Pickled (or thinly sliced fresh) jalapeno peppers
  • Crumbled bacon

* Scotch bonnet peppers are spicier than that donkey show that your cousin’s best friend’s brother apparently witnessed.  If you can’t find scotch bonnet, feel free to use habanero peppers which are only slightly milder.  If you want it hotter than Hell’s panties you can leave the ribs and seeds in for good measure – but please be careful.  I feel the need to be responsible and warn you that this is plenty hot as it is.  If you prefer, you could also use 2-3 canned chipotles in adobo sauce if that’s your yen, and forfeit some of the chili powder later on.

** No chipotle chili powder?  You can use an equal amount of your regular chili powder but add a bit of cayenne for zip.

*** No smoked paprika either?!  Seriously.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Alright, 1 tbsp of sweet paprika + a drop or two of liquid smoke will do the trick just fine.


Give the half pound of bacon a good chopping, and then sweep it into a large heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat.  Let the bacon begin to render, cooking down and releasing it’s fat.  You will want to stir occasionally, but if the heat is relatively low then the bacon doesn’t mind enjoying it’s own company for a few minutes.


As the bacon cooks you can chop up the onion and mince the garlic.  Slice the celery lengthwise in half (or thirds if it is particularly thick) and then cut horizontally into 1/4 inch chunks.  At some point you will also want to mince the scotch bonnet peppers as finely as you possibly can, but if this is not that point then so be it.


When the bacon is cooked through (but not crispy!  Please don’t let it get crispy) add the onion, garlic and celery to the pot.  Let things mellow down easy over the same medium low heat.


When the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, add the ground beef.  Keep this going until the ground beef is cooked through and browned, breaking up any big pieces with the back of your spoon as you go.

When the beef is browned you will notice an upsetting amount of fat in the bottom of your pot.  We should expect this, considering that it’s a pot full of beef and bacon, and yet it always seems like an unhappy surprise.  Drain off (and dispose of) most of that fat before moving on.


When you return the drained pot to the heat, add the balsamic vinegar and give it a stir until all the vinegar is absorbed by the meat.  This only takes about 30 seconds.  Add in the hot peppers and tomato paste, stirring and letting this cook for 3-5 minutes until that raw tomato taste has been cooked down and absorbed into the beef.


Measure in the cocoa powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaf, chili powders, paprika and sugar.  


Give it a stir so that everything is mixed in nicely and let this cook for a few minutes, even if the beef starts to look a little bit dry.  The color in your pot will be a rich, reddish dark brown.  Absolutely gorgeous and with the headiest scent.  Mmmm…..


Pour in the 4 cups of stock and your can of diced tomatoes (with their juices).  Drain the beans and give them a good rinse to remove any starchy residue, and add these to the pot.  Give everything a nice stir, turn the heat down to low, and let this simmer away for an hour, maybe even two if you can spare it.  You probably want to give it a stir every now and then as you walk by, just to make sure that it doesn’t burn on the bottom.  For the most part though, let it bubble away and work it’s magic.  

If you notice that the chili is getting too thick, add a cup of water, give it a stir, and check to see if it still needs more.  I like a nice thick chili (all the better for chili dogs), but I still added a cup of water before the last half hour of cooking.  At some point you should also add as much (or little) salt and pepper as your bulging and testosterone fueled He-Man heart desires.


I know, I know.  I always add vegetables at the end, just when you think that you’re done with all that chopping and whatnot.  It’s just that I loathe and despise mushy, dessicated, or otherwise unrecognizable peppers.  They bother me.  A lot.  When the chili has been simmering away for at least an hour, chop the peppers up into a medium dice.


Add the peppers to the pot and let it continue to cook for another 15 – 2o minutes.  

My apologies for this very orange picture – as you can see in the ones below, the cooked chili is most definitely not the color of a traffic pylon.


Thick, rich, meaty (and hotter than hell) chili.  Lord love a duck.


I would make a joke about how I like my chili the way that I like my men, but I think Mike would get depressed.


You want to start talking like a pirate, even though it’s not September 17th?  Try this chili.

You secretly have a man-on-man love crush for George Clooney that nobody but your closest friend (and your Mom – she knows everything) has heard about?  Try this chili.

You have found multiple uses for both wild turkeys and Wild Turkey?  Try this chili.

Don’t wuss out on me now….


And just to remind you that sometimes cats and dogs get along, here is our chili duet.  Sometimes opposites DO attract…..


  • [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    Sometimes a man-chili hits the spot. Yours look yummy!

  • kristie

    I want a chili throwdown with you two. For reals. I’ve got chili running through my blood, which probably explains my chronic heartburn.

  • Peter

    I think I’m going to have a bromance with this chest-hair chilli (blush).

  • noble pig

    OMG the name alone is just awesome..I love it…just love it!

  • Suzie

    This is the chilli recipe I have been looking for – but we don’t get your varieties of chillies. Any thoughts on whether the very hot bird’s eye chillies are a reasonable substitute?

    • Mike

      I think you’d be fine with it. Bird’s Eye shows up a lot in Portugese cooking, as well as Asian and Thai — that’s the level of heat that a good, hearty Habanero would also deliver.

      The trick is always to balance out the heat with smoke or sweetness, so as long as you’ve got chili or even cumin around to even out the hotness, you’re going to just fine.

      And I don’t mind adding that a particularly fantastic leftover application for this chili is over hot dogs or mild sausages. Mmmmm, fattening.

  • Carolyn Jung

    I love the name! So, does this mean after you eat the chili, you’ll have MORE chest hair or less of it? Hah!

    • Tina

      Well, this IS the type of chili to put hair on your chest, but I chanced it anyway…..worst case scenario, LASER CLINIC HERE I COME!!!!