Chili a la Hubs

Photos by Laura Hobbs
The starring ingredient in his chili is stout beer. The stout leaves a lingering bitter flavor in the chili, but can be counteracted with a few tablespoons of brown sugar.

In the past two and a half years, there has never been an instance where I have relinquished my chokehold-like control over the content of each and every one of my columns. The ideas, the words, the recipes, and the pictures have all been decidedly mine. I had tossed around ideas of hosting guest cooks or guest writers, but neither of those ever came to fruition; that is, until this week. Hubs had seen flyers for a neighborhood chili cook-off at the park across the street from our house, and offered up his chili expertise for my column; that is, if I agreed to sit on my hands, be quiet, and merely take the pictures. So the following is a first for me, and a first for the Flyer Foodie column. Golf clap, please.

Cook-Off Flyer

Lefthand Stout

Smashed Garlic


Chopping the Meat

The Cook

As most of you have probably guessed, Hubs doesn’t do a whole lot of cooking around the Hobbs abode. This isn’t, of course, because he doesn’t know his way around the kitchen; quite the contrary, actually. It’s just because he’s married to a Type-A control freak who must have things her way in the kitchen or suffer dire consequences. I can assure you that this trait is hereditary; just ask my charmingly Georgian grandmother if she needs help in the kitchen, and she will so politely drawl, “Nooo, huuuhney. I’d rathuh just doooh it maaah waaay.” I hear you loud and clear, Grandbetty. Loud and clear.

I must admit, I entered into this agreement with Hubs ready to plaster a giant disclaimer at the top of my column announcing, “I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS! I TAKE ZERO RESPONSIBILITY! IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, GET HORRIBLE GAS OR DIE, IT’S NOT MY FAULT!” But as I sat back, merely snapping pictures and taking notes as hubs sliced, diced and spiced his way through this giant vat of chili, my anxiety was quelled and I began to realize, “Dang. This dude’s making one hell of a pot of chili.”

In the past, Hubs and I have differed when it comes to using spices. I belong to the very traditional, conservative (read: safe) group of cooks who are reluctant to add anything out of the ordinary, adhering to the rules with a super-glue-like bond. Hubs, on the other hand, belongs to the group of cooks who thinks that all spices are fair game: if it’s in the spice drawer, it’s going in the pot. I am proud to say that with this pot of chili, Hubs kept his overzealous spicing tendencies at bay and stuck to the basics – and boy, did it pay off.

The starring ingredient in his chili is stout beer. For Hubs’s batch, he used Milk Stout Nitro from Left Hand Brewing Company, but any stout beer will suffice. The stout left a lingering bitter flavor in the chili, which Hubs counteracted with a few tablespoons of brown sugar. Being a huge (huge!) fan of chipotle peppers, he added a couple, knowing that not everyone on the tasting panel likes things as tongue-searingly-hot as he does; but feel free to add more at your own risk. I also thought the mix of vegetables was a nice touch, with colored bell peppers and fresh corn, right off the cob.

After letting the chili simmer for a couple of hours, we hauled the vat over to the park across the street and got ready for the judging. Droves of people from all sides of the neighborhood showed up, and tasted the nine pots of chili on the judging table. (Head on over to my blog to see the lowdown on how it all went down.) Votes were cast, and yours truly tallied up the results: Hubs’s Chipotle Stout Chili won first place by a landslide! People loved the smokiness of the chipotle and the lingering flavor of the milk stout. Hubs was beaming as he picked up his grand prize (a six-pack of Out of Bounds Stout, tres apropos). We left the cook-off giddy and proud, and ready to spend the rest of the night on the couch, nursing our bellies after nine helpings of chili. Without further ado, Hubs’s award-winning Chipotle Stout Chili. Enjoy!

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Award-Winning Chipotle Stout Chili

(serves 15+)

Download this recipe

On the Judging Table

The Contenders


1 1/2 lb. stew meat or skirt steak, chopped into 1/2″ chunks
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped into 3/4″ dice
2 yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped into a 3/4″ dice
2 ears of corn, shucked and cut off the cob
2 pkgs. hot chili seasoning mix
2 chipotle peppers, minced
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 (12 oz.) stout beers
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 (14 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed & drained
2 (14 oz.) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed & drained
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
canola oil, salt and pepper
sour cream, cilantro and corn chips for serving

In a large soup pot, heat about 3 tablespoons of canola oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the meat and cook until beginning to brown, stirring regularly, about 7 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper and corn, and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, another 7 minutes. Add the hot chili mix, minced chipotles and tomato paste, and cook for about a minute, until the tomato paste is melted and fully incorporated. Add the beers, brown sugar, black beans, Great Northern beans, diced tomatoes with their juice, and Worcestershire sauce, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least two hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasonings and serve with sour cream, cilantro and corn chips.

Photo Slideshow

* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.

Laura Hobbs
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville, but has recently moved to Boulder, Colorado. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more from Laura, see her past stories, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook or check out Prana & Pie.