Beef, Pork and Pinto Bean Chili

chili and cornbread

This chili is inspired by one that I enjoyed a couple years ago at the Cowgirl Creamery Cantina in Point Reyes Station. I loved that it combined the standard tomato-based chili that I had known up until that point with my longtime love, Chile Colorado. Since I wasn’t a hugely experienced American-style chili eater at that point (I’ll admit, I’m only slightly more so now), it was a bit of a flavor and texture revelation for me — I just had to re-create it at home.

Like any chili, this is a welcome meal on a brisk, fall day — especially when accompanied by a slab of homemade cornbread (or several handfuls of tortilla chips, my preference) and a glass of “leftover” wine.

Beef, Pork and Pinto Bean Chili

Preparation Time: 3+ hours, mostly inactive

Serves: 6 or more


Vegetable Purées:

  • 1 quart beef stock, divided (2 cups for peppers, 2 for beans)
  • 3 ounces dried California or New Mexico chili peppers
  • 28 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes in juice
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground


  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) peanut or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (22 grams) potato flour (or millet flour, avoid using starches)
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, cut into 3/4” – 1” cubes
  • 1 pound chuck roast, cut into 3/4” – 1” cubes

Sautéed Vegetables:

  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) olive oil
  • 8 ounces (1 1/2 cups, from about 2 medium) finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) finely minced garlic
  • 1 cup (227 grams) dry red wine (eg Cabernet Sauvignon)


  • 8 ounces (227 grams) dried pinto beans, rinsed and drained (no need to soak)
  • 2 cups (454 grams) water


Make Vegetable Purées:

Remove stems from peppers, split lengthwise rinse out seeds (remove ribs if you prefer less spicy food). Place in a small saucepan, cover with 2 cups of the beef stock. Over high heat, bring mixture to a boil; once it comes to a boil, remove from heat, stir, cover and steep for at least 30 minutes.

While peppers are steeping, blend tomatoes through black peppers in a blender or food processer until smooth; set aside.

When peppers are cool, transfer the entire mixture (peppers plus cooking liquid) to a blender or food processor (if the mixture is still warm, the top cannot be completely covered unless you want an explosion to occur – I just hold several layers of floursack towel over the small, center hole). Blend peppers until smooth; set aside.

Sear Meat:

In an 8 quart or large stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon or so of the oil over medium high heat. Toss the cubed meat with potato flour. Once oil is shimmering, add a single layer of meat to pan, sear for about 30 seconds to 1 minute total (just until barely colored on all sides). Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining meat, adding more oil (allow it to heat up before adding meat) to the pan as needed.

Sauté Vegetables and Simmer Chili:

Reduce the heat of the stockpot to medium. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the pot, warm until shimmering. Sauté onions until they soften and become golden, about 10 minutes). Add garlic, stir well and cook until softened (a minute or two). Deglaze pan with wine, scraping up any crusty bits from the bottom.

Return meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Stir in puréed peppers and tomato mixture. Bring mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to low and continue to cook mixture, uncovered (a splatter screen is ok) for 2 1/2 or more hours, until meat is tender.

Cook Beans:

Once the chili is at a simmer, combine beans with the remaining 2 cups beef stock and 2 cups water in a 4 quart pot. Place over high heat, bring to a hard boil and cook for 5 minutes. Stir, cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer beans until soft, about 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Finish Chili:

Once meat and beans are tender, drain beans (reserving cooking liquid) and stir into chili. If desired, add a little of the reserved bean broth to the chili to thin (I chose not to add any, I like mine thicker). Season chili to taste with additional salt, chili powder and/or cumin; simmer for another 30 minutes or so, allowing flavors to meld. Serve immediately or transfer to a 9×13″ dish to cool before covering and placing in the refrigerator.

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  • Reply
    Jen at The Three Little Piglets
    October 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I’ll take a bowl please! Chips or cornbread…

  • Reply
    heather sage
    October 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Jen, your comment just made my day! I wish I had some to share (or for my lunch right now), but it’s long gone :).

  • Reply
    October 19, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I am so ready for Northern California to cool down and feel like fall! Then I will be ready to make chili, stews and soups. I look forward to trying yours.

  • Reply
    heather sage
    October 19, 2011 at 10:11 am

    So happy I’m not alone in feeling that way — I was nearly jumping for joy during those few cool, rainy days that we had!

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