Sunday, October 16, 2022

Lamb chili

Today's post is all about chili in honor of National Chili month, and I'm sharing my new favorite chili recipe, which has lamb and white beans.

What defines chili?
The possibilities are endless when it comes to making chili, and preferences are very much regional.

Some groups of people like Texans don’t believe chili should have beans. This version, often referred to as Chile con carne, is simply a thick tomato and meat sauce with peppers and spices.

Many other people, myself included, like beans in chili. I like the texture, and it gives the chili more substance. Also, beans are a great source of fiber and protein.

Some other people always eat chili with noodles.

Topping preferences also vary (I like lime and sour cream), as well as what to serve alongside chili (I love cornbread, but some people like cinnamon rolls with their chili).

Chili is meant to be eaten, so you should make chili whichever way you think tastes best.

Good foundation
The most important part of making chili is developing a good foundation. This is why I don’t believe in dump it all in slow cooker meals. To achieve maximum flavor, you must brown the meat, sauté the onions and peppers, and toast the spices. There’s actually quite a bit of work before the chili starts simmering on the stove.

Avoid water
Water is great for hydrating, but it has no flavor. So why would you add an ingredient with no flavor to your chili when there are plenty of other flavorful liquid options? The recipe I’m sharing today uses the liquid from a can of petite diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and beer.

Canned beans vs. dried beans
I always use dried beans when possible because they’re more cost-effective, they’re easier to digest, they’re more nutritionally dense, and I have more control over the texture / taste. It is imperative that you soak and cook the dried beans before adding them to your chili because the acidity in the tomatoes will prevent the beans from softening. That said, canned beans are a heck of a lot easier to work with (just drain and rinse), so I understand if you choose to go that route. One of my favorite tips is to use the Instant Pot to cook dried great northern beans. Put the beans and liquid in the Instant pot with a 1 : 3.5 bean to liquid ratio and cook for 30 minutes with 15 minutes natural release.

Acidity from a squeeze of lime brightens and rounds out the flavor; sour cream balances the spicy chilies; and cilantro makes it taste fresh.

What makes this chili recipe extra special
  • The key to this chili recipe is the meat—lamb. I love lamb, and I think it gives the chili a rich, unique flavor you don’t get with beef or other meats. 
  • Traditionally, white beans pair well with lamb, so I used great northern beans. They have a thick skin, are medium sized, and have a mild taste.
  • I used both crushed tomatoes and petite diced tomatoes because I like the varieties in texture.
  • A 12-ounce bottle of dark beer imparts sugars, malty flavors, and a pleasant bitterness that balances out the spices. 
  • I used three types of chili peppers for extra depth of flavor: poblano peppers for mild spice, jalapeño peppers for sharp bite, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for smokiness. 
  • Fire roasting the poblano and jalapeño peppers concentrates their flavors and makes them a little sweeter while also imparting a grilled, charred flavor.

Lamb chili

Yield: 10 cups

Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 large yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and small dice (fire roasting optional)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and small dice (fire roasting optional)
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, small dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 12 ounces dark beer
  • 3 1/2 cups great northern beans, cooked
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: Lime, sour cream, cilantro


  1. Heat soup pot over medium heat. Add lamb. Break up clumps with wooden spoon and sauté until browned. Transfer to plate and set aside.
  2. Add onion and peppers and sauté until caramelized.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika and cook 1 minute.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, beer, and beans. Return lamb to pot. 
  6. Bring chili to boil and reduce to simmer. Cover and continue simmering for 1 hour. Taste and add salt and black pepper as necessary.
  7. Serve with lime, sour cream, and cilantro, if desired.



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