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Ask A Chicago Chef: Your Best Chili Recipe

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With its hearty flavors and plenty of heat, a bowl of chili is a great way to warm up on a cold Chicago day. Whether you like chili in your meat or prefer it vegetarian, or whether you like beans or not, here are three recipes from some wonderful chefs around the city. This way you get a bite of restaurant-quality food in your very own home.

Executive Chef Jared Van Camp
Old Town Social
455 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 266-2277

Once a student of Rick Tramonto and Paul Kahan, Executive Chef Jared Van Camp has made a name for himself and not just because he's created one of the most ambitious charcuterie programs in Chicago. In all of his restaurants, Chef Van Camp strives to use local ingredients and make as much in-house as possible. The result? Some of the best gourmet bar food in the city, including this Texas-style chili, which calls for no beans. While it was originally designed to complement a hot dog, it's also great on its own.

Short Rib Chili

Ingredients for step 1

  • 6 lbs short rib, medium diced
  • 1 lb bacon, ground
  • 4 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • 4 tbsp coriander, toasted and ground
  • 2 tbsp cumin, toasted and ground
  • 4 tbsp Hungarian parika
  • 4 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 onions, minced
  • 12 garlic cloves, microplaned
  • Black pepper, finely ground
  • 1 tbsp chicken stock
  • 1 gallon canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 cups flour

Ingredients for step 2

  • 8 oz canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 8 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 4 tbsp cumin, ground and toasted
  • 2 tbsp tabasco
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup yellow mustard


  1. Start by seasoning your meat with salt and black pepper.
  2. In a large hot pan, sear off the short rib meat to brown. Remove the meat and drain excess fat.
  3. In the same pan, render down the ground bacon until it becomes slightly crispy. Remove the bacon and drain any excess fat.
  4. In the same pan, sweat down the garlic and onions for around five minutes. Following, add flour and cook for one additional minute.
  5. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and all the other ingredients for step one.
  6. Simmer the mixture for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. After those 45 minutes, remove the pan cover and all of the ingredients in step two.
  8. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the meat is very tender.
  9. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Chef Michael Kornick
DMK Burger Bar
2954 N. Sheffield Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 360-8686

DMK may be known for its burgers, but with Chef Kornick at its helm, it's also about classic cooking with seasonal ingredients. Prior to opening DMK with David Morton, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked in restaurants that received acclaim, including MK, which he opened with his wife. Today, he's one of the world's leading restauranteurs. Even so, he still loves working in the kitchen and creating recipes, such as this Mexican Hatch recipe.

Mexican Hatch Green Chili

  • 6 lbs pork butt diced into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 lbs frozen hatch green chilis
  • 2 large Spanish onions, diced
  • 4 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 3 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 3 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups canned white hominy cooked, drained
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans, canned
  • 8 tomatillos diced
  • 4 large flour tortillas


  1. Brown the meat in a heavy gauge stewing pot with half of the olive oil. Then remove from the pot.
  2. Sweat the onions in the rest of the oil. To the pot, add the garlic, cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, bay leaves and black pepper.
  3. Add the meat and chicken stock to the pot. Simmer until the meat is almost tender, which will be about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  4. When the pork is nearly tender, add the flour tortillas and let them dissolve.
  5. Add all the chilies, hominy, pinto beans and tomatillos.
  6. Simmer everything in the pot for about 30 minutes, and then finish by adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Related: Best Chili in Chicago

Executive Chef Brett Neubauer
Howells & Hood
435 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 262-5310

The 360 beers on tap isn't the only reason to frequent this Magnificent Mile restaurant. The classic American dishes with a contemporary twist, from the kitchen of Chef Neubauer, are another reason. He serves everything from bar bites and shareable dishes to elevated classics, to a range of entrees, including glazed pork chops as well as spaghetti and meatballs.

1871 Chile Recipe

  • 8 oz bacon
  • 10 oz yellow onions, diced
  • 1 lb 4-ounce NY Steak, diced
  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 1 oz chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 oz masa harina
  • 2 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 can (5.5 oz) chipotle pepper
  • 2 bottles New Holland Dragons Milk beer
  • 2 each of beef broth (low sodium)
  • Water, to cover


  1. Render bacon over medium heat.
  2. To the pan, add the diced yellow onions, and then sauté until it becomes translucent.
  3. Add NY steak pieces, and sear until they've browned.
  4. Add all other meat ingredients now, and cook the mixture until all the meat has browned.
  5. Deglaze the pan with beer.
  6. Add the seasonings, as well as the chipotle peppers and water. Bring this mixture to a boil, and simmer for one hour. To fortify it, add the beef stock and re-boil. Add some salt.
  7. In a separate pan, make a tomato roux with butter, masa harina and tomato paste.
  8. Once the roux is made, slowly incorporate it into the pan with the meat mixture.
  9. Simmer the mixture for a full five minutes to cook out the roux.
  10. Serve the chili right away, along with your favorite garnishes.

Related: Best Chili Dishes in Chicago

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she's writing about a variety of topics for numerous websites and blogs, and working part-time at a culinary vacation company based in the Windy City. Some of her work can be found at

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