Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

Pot Roast Chili Is Our Weapon Against Culinary Mediocrity

I wanted chili.

Like, I wanted it in the way an addict wants smack. In the way that when you’re drunk and it’s 3 in the morning and you get this nearly-psychopathic urge to eat a particular combination of foods: I WANT POTATO SKINS AND FUDGSICLES OR I’M GOING TO FUCKING START HITTING THINGS WITH A HAMMER.

I wanted chili.

And I wanted meat in that goddamn chili. Meat. I mean, sure, and vegetables, too, but my carnivorous forebears — which were actually bears, by the way, for the Wendigo bloodline contains several grizzlies — had risen to the surface of my desire like growling ghosts and they demanded flesh.

But all I had was pot roast as a meat source.

Which is no great problem. All you gotta do is cut up the pot roast into cubes and throw those into the chili and ta-da, hey, chili with meat, yay, game over, goodbye, SHUT IT DOWN, everybody. *starts flipping levels and switches*

But I did not do that.

This roast, it was a four-pounder. Good-size. About that of a human head.

And no, it wasn’t actually a human head. I know I got those mixed up last time. JEEZ HAVE A LITTLE FAITH a guy boils one decapitated head and serves it at a church luncheon and everybody gets their genitals in a tizzy. Can’t anybody just relax anymore?


What I decided to do was, cook the pot roast In The Usual Fashion, and then use the delicious savory broth that results not to make gravy, as I usually would, but rather, to make one helluva pot of chili. And dang, youse y’all yinz, it was pretty chilitastic. Or, as Guy Fieri would say, “It was a hot tasty enema right from the general practitioner operating out of Flavortown Hospital!” Or something. I think to get a proper Guy Fieri impression going I need to dye my body hair the color of lemonade and name my son “Donkey Sauce” and buy a sexy convertible so that I can finally become the manifest totem spirit of Mid-Life Crisis.


So, here’s what I did:

First up: turn your FIRECUBE (“oven”) to 275F.

I cut up two sweet onions into fair chunkin’s. I set my heavy-bottomed stock pot on medium-high with a little ejaculation of olive oil to coat the bottom. And I started cooking some onions. Just until they got a little color to them, maybe got a bit soft. Throw in a little chopped garlic, too — but do this late so the garlic doesn’t start to burn because when you burn garlic, Jesus and Athena and Amaterasu and all the other gods and goddesses weep. They weep. You heretic.

While the onion-garlic thing was happening I was like, “LET’S SALT SOME MEAT,” which is also the first of my failed catchphrases back in improv comedy school. When I say “salt the meat,” I don’t mean, “apply a light wintry dusting of salt.” I mean, “salt the unmerciful fuck out of it.” I mean, “salt it like you’d salt the earth of your enemies after you razed their crops and burned them out of house and home.” Don’t skimp on the skalt. Er, salt.

I also sprinkled some powdered garlic onto the meat, too.

Then: the giant lump of flesh goes into the purgatory pot where it will have its sins not burned out of it but contained by the sweet browning on all sides that must occur. The story goes that we brown meat to contain its flavor, but that’s not really true. We brown meat to contain the angry ghost of the animal we killed. Which increases its deliciousness.

(The vegetarian version of this dish is just you starting longingly at an empty plate. I’m sorry, veggie-heads, I love you and respect you but it’s possible to make one helluva veggie-only chili, this way ain’t one of them.)

Brown the meat on all sides. Laugh as it sizzles. Taunt the angry beast-wraith within.

Take the meat out once the beast-wraith has been contained.

Now, it’s time to bring liquids into the equation.

This demands beer, first and foremost.

You don’t want to use something super-bitter because that bitterness will linger like that last guest at a party who doesn’t understand you just want to go to bed and masturbate to drunken incompletion. But you also don’t want to use something without much flavor. I see people sometimes advocating cooking with undrinkable beer like Budweiser and I was like, “If I don’t want to drink it, I don’t want it hanging out with my food, either.” And Budweiser isn’t really beer, anyway, it’s llama urine. And not even good llama urine — it’s all watered-down.

So: maybe Guinness. I used a pilsner. One that didn’t have a strong bite but had a great beer flavor just the same. Hoppy without tasting grumpy.

About two cups of that goes into the pot. Use the beer to scrape up any meaty bits from the bottom of the pan. Some call this “deglazing,” but I call it “scrumptifying.” I don’t call it that, I don’t know why I said that. I’m sorry. Sometimes I just say things. I might be drunk right now. YOU DON’T JUDGE ME.

Then, you want another two cups of liquid. Some manner of broth or stock or animal juices. Believe it or not, I didn’t have any beef or chicken stock on hand so I used vegetable stock (gasp!) and it really worked well. Like I said: two cups.

Return the meat gently to the pot. This isn’t the time to try to be a basketball star because if by some fortune you make the shot you will probably scald yourself and your pets with napalm broth. Sounds funny now, but it’s not funny.

Here’s where I add all the magical chili seasonings.

I don’t measure. Just assume I mean “use a whole lot of these spices.” (You will have an opportunity to add more later to adjust taste, by the way.)

I use:

Dark chili powder.


More garlic powder.

Now, the whole pot can go into the oven.

One hour per pound of meat.

Go do something while this happens. Do some karate. Train a zoo lemur to become a world-class pickpocket. Hang-glide into your neighbor’s yard, take a dump on the hood on their minivan, and bolt. You’ve got three or four hours to kill, so fill the temporal space wisely.

When the timer goes ding, return to your firecube and — USING YOUR BARE HANDS BECAUSE YOU ARE IMPERVIOUS TO HARM — lift the pot out of the oven.

What’s that? You’re not impervious to harm?

Pssh. You humans.

Whatever. Use potholders, you weak-fleshed stripling.

Rescue the meat from within the cauldron of bubbling red hell-broth. Place it on a cutting board or upon the back of your nearest captive adversary.

Put the pot of crimson deliciousness back on the stove and bring to a simmer.

The meat? You carve it how you like. It should be pull apart, so I mostly just peeled hunks away and coarsely chopped it before returning it to the blood-red slurry.

Once the meat is back in the broth, you also want to add:

Three cans of the beans of your choice.

I usually go with some kinda red kidney bean, black bean, and pinto bean.

Then I cut up a couple bell peppers — I don’t care what colors you choose, but green adds a nice color, and maybe an orange, or a yellow, or one of those hypercolor ones you find growing in the gardens of those mutant hill people out by Three Mile Island.

Then: couple squirts of ketchup, couple squirts of yellow mustard, several splashes of Worcestershire sauce. Then, after that, about 2-3 TBsp of apple cider vinegar.

Finally, one large-size can of crushed or diced tomatoes.

Season more to your taste. Salt, cumin, chili powder, whatever.

Once again bring to a simmer.

Cook for a half-hour, or until the pepper is soft, but not mushy.

Now, here’s the thing:

You’ll notice I haven’t made this spicy.

That’s because we have a toddler who doesn’t like spicy food. So, I add spice to my chili in the bowl, much as you might with a bowl of Pho. That being said, if your culinary behaviors are not imprisoned by the needs and wants of a tiny toddler person, feel free to zing it up in the pot. As you add the bell pepper, toss in some jalapenos and some red chili flake to taste.

Also: I add two more things to the bowl.

First: cheese.

Second: lime juice.

Cheese? Well, a nice sharp cheddar will do. Sharp enough to be used as a prison shiv.

The lime juice? That brightens this chili up. Gives it light and acid. (Not the kind of acid where it sizzles through the hull of your spaceship like the blood of a Xenomorph, so no worries there.)

Final comment: this chili tastes better after it’s had time to sit in the fridge overnight.

I don’t know why that is. I’m just going to assume dark magic is at work.


That’s the pot roast chili.

The meat is fall apart mmm.

The chili is savory and rich.

You will thank me.

Hopefully with cash. Cold, hard cash.