Triple Threat Chili

My favorite thing about fall is DEFINITELY the chili. Okay, and the leaves. And wearing sweaters. And cloudy days. And cooler temperatures.

Prepping for Chili during a visit from Mom in KC. October 2010

So I guess, pretty much all of it then. But really, the chili really ties it all together. My mom makes a delicious, albeit very simple, chili routinely every year. We enjoyed it traditionally for the first Packer game of the year, which usually resulted in two cauldrons of piping hot chili on an 80 degree day. However, I remember at least a few years when it would actually be “chilly” enough for the chili we were making.

My mother made two batches of chili. One with elbow macaroni for my dad (not my favorite), and one without (ding!). She used kidney beans and chili beans, as well as a particular kind of chili seasoning (this part definitely matters, trust me). For the base, it was canned tomatoes and tomato juice. I think there was celery too. Needless to say she never changed it up, which was great because I love her chili. Oh and don’t forget about 20 buttered saltines and shredded cheese for each helping. Yep. It gets serious.

So when it came down to my own kitchen, and my mother’s recipe, I decided give recreating it a try. I can remember calling her up a couple of years ago demanding the recipe as soon as the first leaves started falling. All I know is that I completely botched the chili. I mean, it was okay, but you know… just not the same. It was from that botched chili recipe that I set out on a conquest for my own perfect chili.

And by George, I think I’ve got it…

CaféPoppy’s Triple Threat Chili

3 Meats:

  • 2lbs ground beef
  • 1 package uncooked bacon (Thicker cut works better)
  • 3lbs chicken or sausage

3 Beans:

  • 1 12oz can seasoned black beans
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 3 cans dark red kidney beans

3 Seasonings:

  • 1 packet chili seasoning (McCormick)
  • 1 packet taco bell taco seasoning
  • 3 tbsp chipotle seasoning (preferably Wildtree brand)

3 Secrets:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup spicy brown mustard

3-ish Staples:

  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 64oz can tomato juice
  • 3 cans rotel canned tomatoes (southwest style)

Starting Notes:

When I first made this chili, I used boneless baked chicken breast. After reconsidering the recipe, I might suggest rotisserie chicken off the bone from your local grocer’s deli, as it is far more savory and typically comes marinated. It’s also slow roasted ahead of time, which cuts down considerably on your overall cook time.  With that being said, plain baked chicken would work just fine.


If you are preparing your own chicken breast, bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes. For this batch of chili, I used bacon & cheddar sausages from my deli’s meat counter. I honestly only used it because we were out of chicken, but definitely prefer my chili with chunks of chicken. If you’re using rotisserie chicken per my suggestion, remove it from the bone in chunks of white and dark meat (skin removed) and set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, fry ground beef until golden brown. Remove from heat and strain. Return to heat and add 1/4 cup of water to the meat. Add a packet of taco seasoning to the mixture, stir and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large stock 12qt stock pot, pour in about half the can of tomato juice. Add in half of the ground beef, chicken (or sausage), beans and diced tomatoes. Bring to a slow boil, stirring often. Add remaining half of the tomato juice, ground beef, chicken/sausage,  beans and diced tomatoes. Add all of the bacon to the top and bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. If you use two smaller separate pots, you can add half of the ingredients to each pot and cut your time down a little bit. I prefer to use one large pot because, well, that’s all I really have as far as large pots go. 😛

Once the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce heat and add the 3 secrets (brown sugar, honey and spicy brown mustard).  Stir often for 30 minutes while chili simmers. Stir well once again after 30 minutes is over, and serve hot in a bowl topped with cheese and buttered crackers on the side. Deeeee-licious!

We added fresh chopped green onions from the garden. Totally optional 🙂

A perfect fall dinner, and lunch leftovers for the rest of the week. Psst.. this huge batch made enough to freeze for later too.

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