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Cooking is Science

I’ve been on a hit of a cooking spree lately. Which is great! I’ve been eating better, paying less (usually) and honestly having fun doing it. I also now recognize that the amazing cream sauce the italian place downtown uses on their chicken is just sour cream, chicken broth and paprika, which isn’t so great.

I tried my hand at making real chocolate fudge. The kind that involves boiling the chocolate and not using pre-sweetened powder. I also learned that there can be non-chocolate fudge, which either depresses or intrigues me. If the other kinds are good then it will be the latter. The fudge turned out… ok, I think. There’s this phase in making candy where you have to gauge the temperature of the candy by dropping some in cold water and seeing how firm it gets. This determines whether the candy ends up being soft like a fudge or hard like toffee or caramel. I’m still learning that part. Everyone else really like the fudge, but really… it’s chocolate and sugar. How can you ever not like it?

The one recipe that I made that I really liked was a chili. I mean, the fudge was good and all. And I made this chicken paprika the other night that was definitely a good dinner…. but this chili? I’m making this chili again. And soon. Well, as soon as my body can stand to eat chili again, at least. The original recipe for it is from, which is a great site and also helps because a bunch of other people told me it was a good chili.

I’m going to give you my instructions on this chili, which is almost identical but I changed one or two things and specified varieties where the original recipe was vague. And oh, before you make this make sure you have a BIG pot. Really!


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions, chopped (use medium or large onions depending on how much you like them. They’ll blend in quick so don’t worry about too much)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 3/4 – 1 pound pound beef sirloin, cubed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer (Guiness works really well!)
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee (I don’t drink coffee at home, so I bought a ‘Tall’ Italian Roast at Starbucks)
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 4 fresh hot serrano peppers, seeded and chopped


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions, garlic, ground beef and cubed sirloin in oil for 10 minutes, or until the meat is well browned and the onions are tender.
  2. Mix in the diced tomatoes with juice, dark beer, coffee, tomato paste and beef broth. Season with brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, oregano, cayenne pepper, coriander and salt. Stir in 2 cans of the beans and hot chile peppers. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Stir in the 2 remaining cans of beans, and simmer for another 30 minutes.


  • Chili can simmer for a loooong time and keep getting better. The caveat here is that you will continually lose liquid and produce a thicker and thicker chili. You can do this on purpose if you want a thicker chili, too.
  • This chili really tastes its best the next day. Throw the lid on the pot and put it in the fridge overnight and when you heat it up the next day it will be at least 20% better.
  • I didn’t include it in this recipe because I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m considering lowering the chili powder dosage to 2 1/2-3 tbsp and raising the cayenne up or switching from serrano to jalapeno peppers. The spice level is great right now (to me), but I don’t care for amount of chili powder taste.

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  1. Ryan says

    Damn that sounds good. Thats a lot of chili !

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