Smoky, Fiery Chili con Carne with Beans and Sweet Corn

Berry leaves are turning red and the grass is going to autumn gold. Nightly temperatures are dipping into the thirties. We’re losing about seven minutes of daylight each day. Winter’s coming, and so today I made the season’s first Big Pot of chili.

I’ve been doing this for years now – one or two pots of chili con carne every fall and winter. No two pots are the same. Here’s this year’s first four-gallon batch. The smoked chipotle’s, smoked sea salt and charcoal grilled meat made this batch the best chili to date!


  • 2 3/4 lbs tri-tip steak
  • 1 tbsp cumin – divided into two equal portions of 1/2 tbsp each
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sweet mesquite seasoning
  • 13 lbs, 10 oz diced tomatoes, seeds removed
  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 oz) tomato paste
  • 3 3/4 pounds sweet onions, chopped coarse
  • 2 1/2 lbs sweet corn
  • 9 pounds beans, soaked, tender, and ready to go. Pinto and black beans in equal portions work well. Alternatively, all black beans are fine.
  • water, as needed (about 1 to 2 cups)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dry oregano, crushed
  • 1 tbsp dry sage
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked sea salt (to taste)
  • 2 arbol chilis, with seeds, chopped fine
  • 4 smoked chipotle chilis, with seeds, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp mince garlic


  1. Fire up a grill to a fairly hot temperature. Charcoal gives the best flavor, but a gas grill is fine.
  2. Cut the tri-tip into small cubes. And place into a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp mesquite seasoning, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix together and place on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil that has been coated with olive oil.
  3. Place the aluminum foil with the meat on it on the grill and cover. Use a spatula to occasionally turn and stir the meat till it’s cooked through. Remove meat from grill, place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, place tomato paste in a bowl and stir in just enough water to make a thick liquid. If you’re using canned diced tomatoes, the liquid from those will be plenty. Set aside.
  5. Add olive oil to a large pot, heat over medium heat, and add onions. Stir to ensure even cooking. When onions just begin to turn translucent, add the tomatoes, the tomato paste (from step 4), and all the remaining spices and seasonings. Heat over medium heat and stir till well mixed. Add the beans. The spices will become more pronounced with cooking, so wait at least an hour before adding additional spices.
  6. Bring pot to just barely boiling, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Use a flame tamer if necessary. Cook for one hour, or more.
  7. Stir in the sweet corn and the meat.
  8. Serve piping hot with corn bread fresh out of the oven and perhaps some grated cheddar cheese.

6 thoughts on “Smoky, Fiery Chili con Carne with Beans and Sweet Corn

  1. I’m not sure what tri-tip steak is… I live in Mississippi and don’t think I’ve ever seen in the grocery store here! Looks great, though!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.