Full disclosure time, friends. If I’m being completely honest, “Chili” as a food category in general has never been high on my list of cravings. I despised beans for my entire life up until I took a very deep dive into solving this inner conflict as a thirty-something mama who adores food and made it my mission to create some bean recipes that even my non-bean-loving heart could enjoy. (Side note: My avoidance of beans in chili would have been much more simpler if I lived in Texas, where their traditional chili does not include beans.) After all, I teach my daughters to be open to trying new things, so I should at least re-visit the bean situation, right? I am happy to report that my efforts were rewarded heartily with two amazing bean-centric recipes. My Bacon Baked Bean recipe (can be found in my cookbook), and this Secret-Ingredient Homestyle Chili that I’m sharing here today.
What makes this particular chili recipe so great? Well, for the most part is a fairly traditional lineup of flavors: beef, beans, tomatoes, peppers, onion, chili powder, and so on. What makes this chili my absolute favorite is the addition of corn as well as hickory liquid smoke (Tip: Do NOT try using the mesquite stuff- it is WAY too overpowering), Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar. The combinations of these “secret” ingredients add such a pleasant dimension of flavors that blends and balances particularly well with the tomatoes. Serve with a buttery slice of cornbread and you’ve got yourself a perfect meal during a bitter Michigan winter. It also freezes really well, so you can store some away for a busy weeknight.Print
Secret-Ingredient Homestyle Chili
This smoky, homestyle chili is award-worthy with its complex depth and balance of flavors made possible by the addition of liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6–8 1x
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ pounds ground beef (venison works well too)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Two 16-ounce cans Bush’s Red Chili Beans
Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
2 cups canned corn kernels, drained
4 tablespoons Stubb’s Hickory Liquid Smoke
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
- Heat oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground beef, onion, red bell pepper, and garlic until meat is browned and onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add beans, tomatoes, and beef stock, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
- Stir in corn, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, dark brown sugar, chili powder, and balsamic vinegar.
- Continue simmering for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings periodically.
- Serve and enjoy.
Keywords: chili, red bean chili, hickory liquid smoke chili, secret ingredient chili,
I hope you enjoy this recipe for Secret Ingredient Homestyle Chili as much as we do. How about you? Do you have any foods that you came to enjoy as an adult that you never thought you would?
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