This is the Chili you want when you want a huge pot o’ chili. When you want to serve a crowd of adults who love spice and love chili, maybe for an event. And even though this is named Game Day Brisket Chili, you don’t have to reserve this big pot of seriously spicy, meaty chili only for a Game Day (although this will shine at a Superbowl party or Tailgate event) and I actually have other barbecue type options for the meat you can sub in for the Brisket.
It seemed kind of ridiculous to call this a Big Old Huge Pot of Brisket, Burnt Ends or Pulled Pork Spicy Chili with Serious Flavor Perfect for Football Parties or Tailgating. So Game Day Brisket Chili it is. But we’ll talk about some of the options to customize this chili to your tastes, favorite ingredients, and heat level, below.
About Game Day Brisket Chili:
First of all, if this particular chili isn’t your thing, I’m gonna direct you over to my Soups, Chowders & Chilis page where I have over a dozen Chili (or closely related) recipes. I do love me some chili, and you probably do, too, or you wouldn’t be here. There’s something for just about everyone there.
What we have here in this pot of goodness is some of the usual suspects, but a little of just about every level of spiciness. There’s Jalapeno, Poblano, Chipotle, Chili Powder, and my homemade Essential Rib Rub (you can use store-bought) which also has a little spice, so this chili isn’t just hot but has multiple levels and layers of complexity. Add to that the standard aromatics, onion and lots of garlic and you can see you’re well on your way to a flavor fest even before you get to the bacon and smoky brisket goodness.
And I always hesitated to make something like a Brisket Chili (can we say pricey!) but it turns out that in this big pot, not much is needed to add a fabulous smoky flavor and an incredible richness to the pot. There’s a little bacon, too, which is always great in chili but it’s brisket (or other barbecue meats) that gives this chili such a lusciousness. And there are beans, too, lots of them, which helps to offset some of that pricier bbq.
I like to use a variety of tomatoes in this chili, rather than just my usual standard of whole tomatoes I crush by hand, just because I’m looking for just the right texture to complement the brisket. And I usually use plain old water; you can tinker and use some beef base or beef broth or sub in a beer. With everything else going on, I think it doesn’t really matter but there is some street cred in claiming your chili has beer in it!
So feel free to make this chili as is or take a look at some of the options and make it your own. I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe and how you tinker! Because recipes like this should never be set in stone and should be constantly evolving until you have your perfect chili!
Oh My Gosh, Mollie, You’re Killing Me with the Heat:
I’d suggest cutting back on the spicy aspects of the chili rather than cutting any one particular item out. I personally wouldn’t touch the poblano (very mild) or the chipotle (hot but essential to the flavor) or the Rib Rub (not very spicy but adds complexity and sweet barbecue flavor) but look at the amount of jalapeno (which can vary in heat level) and the amount of Chili Powder. I use just plain old grocery store chili powder in this.
To give you an example of how hot this is with various levels of spices:
- I like a little heat, and for me, 4 jalapenos and about 2 tablespoons of Chili Powder is just right for spicy chili. A little personality, but I can enjoy it straight up.
- My son likes it with the 4 jalapenos & 4 tablespoons of Chili Powder which makes me a little uncomfortable (but not to the point my eyes are watering and my nose burning but def to the point I wanted sour cream) but he likes more heat. Let’s just say he didn’t use any hot sauce or Sriracha and he puts Sriracha on almost everything!
Of course, serving this chili with sour cream as a garnish is always going to help cool things down. I really like it without a lot of the extras, just because it’s a kind of special chili and I like to let the flavor shine. Just a little White Cheddar was perfect along with a squeeze of lime and a little cilantro. You can garnish how you wish, though!
While we’re talking heat, the only way I’ve ever found to save a chili that is just plain too darned hot is to take some of it, put it in a strainer, rinse with water, then add back to the pot with some plain old tomato sauce. You’ll have to simmer it for a while to blend the flavors and maybe adjust the consistency of the chili.
Brisket’s a no-go. What are my other options?
Since this chili is cooked long and slow and the already Barbecued Brisket is added at the end and slowly simmered, you have the option of using other cooked meats, instead. Any leftover barbecue will be fab! The big surprise for me is how little meat this chili actually needs, but more is always better, amirite? Really about two to four cups seem generous.
- Pulled Pork will add a lot of flavor and is a super budget item, but since it’s probably at a shredded state already only needs to be heated through in the chili.
- Barbecued chicken or pulled chicken can work here. It wouldn’t be a first choice simply because chicken is a lighter option and this is a rich chili. Add your chicken in chunks or shreds and simmer to desired consistency.
- Burnt Ends are fabulous, but may need more simmering than brisket to break down and soften up if they’re leftover. When reheating, do so slowly. The fat in the burnt ends will toughen back up after being refrigerated and needs a slow reheat to soften again. The stovetop is the best option. Add a little water if needed.
- Pork Belly, which used to be dirt cheap before it’s recent popularity would be fabulous in this. Treat it like the Burnt Ends.
- If you have no barbecue to use in this chili, in a pinch you can add a little liquid smoke at the end. Be careful, it’s strong; never measure out over the chili; a spill could be disastrous. The taste dissipates over time. See my Top Secret Super Stealth Arsenal of Ingredients.
How Can I Make This My Own?
First of all, know that this is a soup cooked from dried beans, so removing them is a no go; all the proportions in the recipe would be off. And beans are part of what helps to bring Game Day Brisket Chili in at a budget. And being primarily a meaty chili, I didn’t add an array of veggies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t if you wish.
- You can vary the type of beans. Pintos not your style? Go with any red bean like a kidney bean or if you love black beans, use them. And of course, any other appropriate bean will work, heirloom beans, for instance.
- You can add bell peppers to this soup, red or green work best because yellows and oranges will turn a muddy color. Simply dice and saute one, two or three with your onions.
- Corn is always a great addition to chili. Add it in, frozen or canned (rinse and drain the canned corn first) about the same time you add the meat. It really only takes a little while to cook/heat through. A cup to a cup and a half would be about right for this amount of chili.
- I use my Essential Rib Rub. You can vary that with any rib rub and although I use a tablespoon and a half, you can help bring that barbecue flavor home by using more. Make sure to add when there is still simmering time left and add more to taste.
Making Game Day Brisket Chili:
This is a super easy recipe, with only a bit of chopping and the only fussy part at all is roasting the peppers. There are some things to know, though. You are definitely going to want to make this with beans you know are fresh (see below) and beans that have been soaked or brined, preferably with a long soak (overnight is great) and you can see Soaking and Brining Beans for more information if you want to take a peek.
Beans can always take a variable amount of time to cook; make sure to allow plenty of time. I really like to make my chili the day before I need it. The flavors blend and it’s even better and I can avoid timing issues with the beans. A little water might need to be added to the chili as it reheats.
Beans in this recipe will simmer for about two to two and a half hours, but very fresh beans could take considerably less and older beans can have issues. Although it’s fine to brine beans as you soak them, make sure to rinse and don’t add any salt to the recipe until the beans are tender.
So basically, you’ll soak your beans, then saute your bacon in a little oil, reserve bacon. Then add in the onion, when tender add the garlic and chopped chipotle chili. Toast the spices in the pot for a quick minute then add in tomatoes, liquid, and beans. Simmer until beans are tender, add in the brisket, reserved bacon and rib rub and give it at least a half an hour. Always watch the amount of liquid and add more as necessary, stir more often as it thickens up.
Help! My Beans are Crunchy!
If you’re in doubt about how fresh your beans are, be careful making this recipe. Old beans can take forever to cook up and become tender, literally hours more. First of all, don’t add in your barbecued meats until the beans are tender because if they haven’t cooked through in the standard time, there is no telling how long they will take and the meat could literally be dissolve into nothing but small shreds.
Here are some things that can help:
- Add more water, a teaspoon of baking soda and simmer longer. It will foam, it’s just reacting with the acid in the tomatoes. Give it an hour of simmering; if still not tender, repeat. Most beans will soften up eventually, but after going two rounds, just keep simmering and adding water as needed. It’s going to be a judgment call if you wish to add more baking soda after that.
- If you have a pressure cooker, you will probably need to work in batches, but you can do the same. Make sure there is enough liquid the chili for the pressure cooker to work properly without scorching or getting a burn notice if using your Instant Pot or Multicooker.
Saving Money on Game Day Brisket Chili:
Of course, how you get your brisket can affect the pricing. If you smoke your own, set some aside for this Chili! You won’t be sorry! But if you don’t, consider checking around at various barbecue joints. There may be specials, they may sell you a little or take a look at the lunches. Honestly, at some barbecue places, a brisket sandwich is piled so high, it’s more than enough meat to toss in this recipe. Your store deli may have brisket and I know you can find it in tubs in the meat departments of many groceries. And there are the less expensive options listed above.
Bacon is generally on sale, one brand or another, prior to just about any holiday. It doesn’t take up much room in the freezer, so stock up. In this recipe, anything from the cheapest to the priciest will work, so choose your option. Bacon is also reasonable at Aldi and even their very cheap bacon that doesn’t have nice slices will work here since it will be chopped anyway.
Canned tomatoes, like any pantry item, should always be picked up at a low. Know the regular and rock bottom sale price and continue to stock your pantry at the lowest pricing; the idea is to never run out before the next great sale and end up paying full price. You’ll generally see most pantry items drop to the rock bottom price about once a quarter.
I love to buy my Pintos at Aldi and I believe that the last time I took notice of the price there it was for a three-pound package for $2.49. If you’re curious, that makes the beans about 83 cents a pound. Watch for great prices at your grocery store around any holiday when ham is often a featured item. You’ll often see them on sale, unadvertised around Christmas & the Winter Holidays and during the Lent & Easter sales.
So I hope you guys enjoy this chili as much as we do! Be sure to check back if you make it!Print
Game Day Brisket Chili
- Total Time: hours + overnight soak
- Yield: 15 servings 1x
- Category: Soups
- Cuisine: American
- 2 to 4 jalapeños, roasted, skin removed, seeded if desired, diced
- 1 poblano pepper roasted, skin removed, seeded, diced (sub a small can of green chiles)
- 1 tablespoon oil (or additional drippings if available
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 large onions, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 chipotle peppers from a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, diced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder (may go up to 4)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon cocoa, preferably Hersheys Special Dark
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes & juice, tomatoes crushed by hand
- 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and juice
- 1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and juice
- 2 tomato cans of water (7 cups) (may use beef broth or add beef base if desired or replace some of the liquid with a beer)
- 1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked or brined overnight
- 1 & a half tablespoons Rib Rub, preferably Essential Rib Rub
- 2 to 4 cups total chopped smoked brisket & or other smoked meats
- salt & pepper to taste
Prepare Jalapenos & Poblano pepper, instructions below. Set aside. (Any juices let off by the peppers while steaming may be reserved added into the chili.)
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add bacon and saute until rendered. Remove bacon from pan and reserve. Add the onions and cook, stirring until softened and translucent, about eight to 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, then the chipotle pepper.
In the meantime, measure out the spices (except the Rib Rub) the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, and oregano and have them ready. Have ready the tomato products, opened.
Push the onions, garlic and chipotle to the side of the pan and add the spices and herbs all at once. Stir for a minute or two until slightly darkened and fragrant then immediately (so the spices won’t burn in the heat) add in the three cans of tomato products. Stir in the water (and/or beef base, broth or beer).
Add the pintos, the jalapeno, and poblano and any juices from steaming if using. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and place lid partially over the pot. Adjust to a good simmer and simmer until beans are tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring and adding water little by little as needed.
- To Soak, add to a large pot. Cover with two inches of water and leave overnight.
- To Brine, dissolve 3 tablespoon table salt in one gallon of water (that’s enough to cover beans by about 2 inches). Add beans and leave overnight.
To roast jalapenos & poblano:
- Arrange jalapenos in a row on a foil-lined cookie sheet, just touching each other with the poblano at one end. Place about 4 inches under the broiler. Broil until blistered, two to three minutes, then turn the poblano and jalapenos a quarter turn, broil again until blistered. Repeat until all sides are blistered and slightly charred. The poblano will probably char more quickly than the jalapenos.
- Place in a small paper bag and close or in a small bowl covered with a plate and let sit for about 10 minutes to steam. When cool enough to handle, remove the majority of the charred skin. Deseed if desired. Generally, poblanos are de-seeded and jalapenos may or may not be depending on the heat level you prefer.
- Roasted peppers freeze well; a great shortcut is to make more than needed, then divide in small portions and freeze.
Keywords: Alcohol, Bacon, Bargain Meal of the Week, Beef, Beer, brisket, canned tomatoes, Chili, Chipotle, Dried Beans, Hot Peppers, Jalapeno, pinto beans, Poblano Peppers, Tomatoes
I’ll be sharing my chili at Fiesta Friday #312, where I am co-hosting this week. I’ll also be sharing at the Weekend Potluck #413 at South Your Mouth & What’s For Dinner Sunday at the Lazy Gastronome. Be sure to stop by if you’d like to catch up on your favorite bloggers in one place every week