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Recipe: Chili From Your Leftovers

It isn’t fancy, but here is a great way to turn your leftovers into something new; we’ll call it chili.

Here is a great and inexpensive way to turn some leftovers into a new meal, using ingredients many of us already have sitting on a shelf in the pantry. We will call it chili, although some Texas chili aficionados will likely remind us that chili technically can’t contain beans or any other fillers. If that’s you, feel free to call it a chili stew or whatever else.

When we say leftovers, really any meats will do. You can used leftover chopped brisket, pulled pork, leftover burgers, leftover chicken, even leftover Thanksgiving turkey. The whole point of this recipe is taking leftovers and turning them into a whole new meal. At the time of writing this, I used 3 cups of leftover brisket and a cup of pulled pork. It tastes fantastic. Just keep in mind this recipe is assuming you have already cooked your meats.

Ingredients List

  • Cooking oil
  • Cooking pot
  • One Cooking Onion
  • 3-4 cloves chopped garlic
  • Bell pepper (we like red)
  • 3-4 cups of leftover meat
  • 3 Tb chili powder
  • 1 Tb ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Tb paprika
  • 2 chilis in Adobo from a can, or 2 Tb if using from a jar.
  • 1 bottle or can of beer
  • 2-4 oz of leftover coffee (no more than a half cup)
  • 2-3 cans of beans (can be pinto beans, black beans, Kidney beans. Your call.)
  • One can of diced chili peppers (may substitute 2-3 roasted, peeled, seeded and diced Anaheim or Hatch chili peppers)
  • 1 can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce

Do Your Prep First

We recommend you get your ingredients together before you start cooking because this recipe doesn’t take all that long to cook, and you don’t want to burn anything if your ingredients aren’t ready. Have these prep items ready and set aside:

  • Chop up your onion
  • Chop up your bell pepper and garlic and set those aside together
  • Chop up your meats, and also your chilis in adobo. These can be set aside together.
  • Measure out your spices together in a small bowl or glass.
  • Dump all your beans in a colander and rinse off the packing residue from the can. Too much sodium and who knows what else. We’ve used a combo of red kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans. Feel free to add any other fillers you have, beans or not. Some may use a small can of corn or other chopped veggies, fresh or canned. Feel free to experiment however you like.
  • Note on the beer: DO NOT DRINK IT! You’ll need all 12oz from that can or bottle. We’ve used a Texas beer called Shiner Bock in the past, but any ale, lager, or dopplebock should do. Avoid using anything too strong like an IPA or a stout because we aren’t sure how that will taste. If you aren’t familiar to cooking with beer, keep in mind that the alcohol will completely evaporate within a minute or so, causing the pot to deglaze and really adding a lot of flavor. Just trust us, and don’t substitute the beer.
  • Open your cans of tomatoes. You can always use your own fresh tomatoes but this recipe is fine with canned stuff you’ve already got on the shelf to save time and money.
  • Drain your green chilis. A small can should be just fine. Mild or hot it is up to you.
  • If you forgot to save some coffee from breakfast, it is worth it to fire up a cup on your Keurig or brew a small pot. We didn’t used to use coffee but after seeing it in several other recipes we tried it, and it just adds a little something and you won’t regret it.

Now Let’s Cook This Thing!

  1. Pour a few tablespoons of cooking oil in your pot and cook the onions until they become translucent. Then add the bell pepper and garlic for a minute or two but don’t burn them!
  2. Now add the meat, the chilis in adobo, and the mix of spices to the pot. Stir it all up for a minute or two.
  3. Add the beer. Mix it up again, and use your spoon to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot. Wait a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate.
  4. Add all the beans and any other fillers, the green chilis, the coffee, and then the tomatoes (we do the tomatoes last do they don’t splash.) Mix the pot up real well, and then put the heat down low for a low simmer for about an hour. You can clean all the dishes and utensils you used for the prep now and avoid a big cleanup later. Stir occasionally, and feel free to serve with some shredded cheese and sour cream.

That’s it! Enjoy this cheap and easy way to use your leftovers.

Written by Daniel Burke

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