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Chunky Mixed-Up Chili

Posted by Denise on February 27, 2015

mixed up chili in cups

Chunky pieces of beef, pablano peppers and butternut squash in a beefy broth makes this one of our most delicious chili recipes.

We call this dish Chunky Mixed-Up Chili because I combined ingredients associated with a couple of different cultures into a chunky, vibrant chili recipe. The resulting chili rated a 20 on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the top score (supposedly), by one of the taste testers and a solid 10 across the rest of the testers. And it was easy to taste why it rated so high.

This Texas-style chili is made with hearty chunks of beef chuck roast that become super tender and juicy as the chili simmers in a mildly spicy sauce. Pablano chiles add texture and heat to the dish. Mexican hot chile powder adds another layer of heat. Cinnamon and cloves contribute a touch of Middle-Eastern flavor. Finally, I added butternut squash to the recipe for texture and flavor. I figured the firmness of the squash would hold up well to the other ingredients and to the long simmer needed to make the beef tender. I added it in the last hour of simmering to give the squash time to cook, but not long enough to become mushy and fall apart. The results were terrific. The leftovers freeze and reheat over low heat without loss of flavor or texture for a quick meal on a busy night.

If you prefer a mild chili, substitute green bell pepper for the Pablano peppers and normal sweet chile powder for the hot chile powders. You’ll still end up with a really tasty chili!


Chunky Mixed-Up Chili



chunky mixed up chili ingredients

Chunky Mixed-Up Chili ingredients.



Makes 6-8 servings




tablespoons olive oil


large-sized sweet onions, chopped (about 4 cups)


large Pablano peppers, stem and seeds removed, chopped (about 1 ½ cups), use green bell pepper if you can’t find Pablanos


cloves garlic, minced


Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into bite-sized cubes


12 ounce bottle of ale beer (we used Harpoon’s Pale Ale)


quart beef broth


16 ounce can diced tomatoes


3” long cinnamon sticks

2 or 3

bay leaves


tablespoons New Mexico hot chile powder or other mild chile powder if you don’t want it spicy


tablespoon regular chile powder


teaspoon cayenne pepper powder (if you desire it spicy, optional)

1 ½

tablespoons ground cumin


teaspoon ground cloves


butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into bite-sized pieces



1.  Pour 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil into a large Dutch oven or soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the onions and Pablano peppers for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté everything in the pan until the onions are translucent, approximately another 3-4 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside until needed.


cooking onions cooking onion2

cooking onions 2 adding peppers and garlic


2.  Salt and pepper the beef cubes. Heat another 1 to 1½ tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and add 1/3 of the beef cubes, browning them on at least 2 sides until nicely seared, about 8 minutes total. Remove the browned beef cubes from the pan and set aside. Repeat the browning process with the remaining beef cubes, only putting as many cubes into the pan as can be browned properly at a time without overcrowding the pan, at least two more batches. Turn the heat to medium and return all of the browned beef cubes to the pan along with the reserved cooked vegetables.


browning beef cubes 


3.  Add the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, chile powders, cayenne, cumin, and cloves to the other ingredients in the pot and stir to coat the meat and veggies with the spices. Allow to cook for about 20 seconds. Immediately add the beer. Stir well, making sure to gently remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and allow them to dissolve into the beer. Cook until beer reduces and the sauce is thickened, about 6-7 minutes, stirring to prevent burning on the bottom. Add the beef broth and diced tomatoes and bring it to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and bring the ingredients to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.


adding spices spices with meat

adding beer to chili


4.  Add the butternut squash cubes to the pot and stir in with all the other ingredients. Simmer for an additional hour until the squash is tender and the meat is very tender. Serve hot. The chili freezes well. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave oven. Add a small amount of water as needed, as freezing may remove some of the moisture.


 adding squash to chili

 chili in white cup

  chili in red cup


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