Chef John’s Perfect Chili Recipe


John knows Southwestern cuisine like no other Minnesotan.  We’ve longed for a chili recipe that had a perfect blend of depth of flavor, hint of saucy spice and just enough meat to satisfy a large group. John developed this one for the cold winters he grew up weathering and we couldn’t love it more – except maybe with some honey-drenched cornbread- stay tuned for that recipe!



John’s Super Chili

  • 1 cup Dried kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 lb. Ground beef
  • 2 Merguez sausages or Spicy Italian
  • 2 tsps Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsps Olive oil
  • 11/2 cups Yellow onions (about 2 med. onions)
  • 1 Large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsps Tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsps Brown sugar
  • 3 Medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsps Harissa
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Chipotle powder
  • 2 Tbsps Fresh oregano leaves (or 1 tsp dried)


John’s Super Chili

  1. Drain and the beans and transfer to a medium pot filled with water. Bring to a boil with 4 cups water and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  2. While the beans are cooking, sauté the ground beef and merguez sausage in a hot pan. Season the meat with a little salt and pepper, then drain off the excess liquid. Set the meat mixture aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, and sauté until caramelized – about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook just until golden – about 1 minute. Then add the tomato paste. Stir, and then sprinkle the sugar, herbs and spices over the mixture. Add the tomatoes, and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the ground beef and merguez. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.