Hearty Winter Chili

To many, chili is the ultimate “man food” and the ultimate expression of culinary independence. This recipe fits the bill on both counts with smoked pork belly and our own Not-So-Basic Barbecue Rub in place of the traditional chili powder. Despite the long cooking time, the recipe is not a lot of work. Prepare it a day ahead and reheat it for the game. You will need a 5 1/2 or 7 quart cast iron Dutch oven.

As written, I would call this a medium heat chili. For a more mild chili, cut the chipotle and jalapeno amounts by half.

By Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Serves 10
Image of Hearty Winter Chili

  • 2 pounds pork belly, cut into squares roughly 4" x 4"
  • 4 tablespoons Not-So-Basic Barbecue Rub
  • About 3 cups wood chips, soaked for at least 1 hour (I use maple)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds beef tri-tip, cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of brown ale (I use Bell’s Best Brown Ale)
  • 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 chipotle peppers (canned, in adobo sauce), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 16 ounces frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 15-ounce cans of chili bean mix (pinto, kidney and black), rinsed and drained
  • 6 to 12 ounces tomato paste
  • Sour cream, shredded cheese and sliced green onions for serving

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking with wood smoke at 325°F.

Rub 1 to 2 tablespoons Not-So-Basic Barbecue Rub into both sides of the pork belly pieces. Add the wood chips to the grill, place the pork in the indirect cooking zone and close the hood to begin smoking. I get this going before prepping all the other ingredients. The pork belly can get about an hour of smoking in while you cut up all the other ingredients. After the pork belly has been smoking for an hour, heat a 5 1/2 quart (or larger) cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil. Brown the tri-tip for a few minutes, working in small batches to avoid over-crowding the pot.

Remove and reserve each batch of beef as it is finished.

Remove the final batch and deglaze the pot with the beer. Add the tomatoes to the pot and return to a simmer. Stir in 2 tablespoons Not-So-Basic Barbecue Rub, plus the cumin, chipotles, adobo sauce and jalapenos. Stir in the beef, onion and corn. The beans and tomato paste will not be added until the final hour of cooking.

Place the pot on the grill in the indirect cooking zone without its lid. The lid stays off the pot the entire time the chili is cooking. Close the grill and cook for 4 hours. Keep the wood smoke going the entire time. A skin of smoked chili will form on top.

Stir this in every 30 minutes or so for maximum flavor. After the chili has cooked for 3 hours, stir in the beans. Remove the pork belly from the grill, cut it into 1/4" cubes and stir it into the chili.

If the chili has not thickened most of the way to your desired consistency by this time, stir in 6 to 12 ounces of tomato paste to thicken as needed. (Remember, the chili will thicken as it cools, and it will be thicker the next day, even after re-heating.) Continue cooking for another hour.

Serve the chili with sour cream, grated cheese and sliced green onions on the side.