Hurricane (IKE) Chili

With Hurricane Ike spinning its way towards Houston just hours before making land fall, most Houstonians decided to get out of town. The memory of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans was fresh in people’s minds. Millions of Houstonians packed up their cars and tried to head north. Traffic was so bad that some sat in their cars traveling only 5 miles in a period of 8 hours.

It was easy to make the decision to “hunker down” as they say here in Texas. If we wanted to leave town, we couldn’t. The brunt of the storm was felt by Galveston Island. Our house, sitting south west of Houston was thankfully undamaged. Getting through the storm was one sleepless night, but living without power for a week was a challenge! You quickly realize how much you take electricity for granted. I was constantly flipping light switches on, and for a brief moment wondering “why didn’t that light come on?” We had no power, a freezer of defrosting meats, and little to do. It seemed like a perfect time to make Chili! Local grocery stores where either closed or had a very limited supply of ingredients. We had to make due with what was on hand. It seemed as if everything but the kitchen sink went into our chili. The original version included steak tips, ground beef and even some ground buffalo. (Feel free to add either if you would like). A little of this and a little of that made a crowd of nine say “Wow! This hurricane chili is great!” Hurricane (Ike) Chili – created September 14, 2008.

Hurricane (Ike) Chili
Makes 6 – 8 Servings

2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 medium Yellow Onion – Chopped fine (I use my trusty food processor)
4 Cloves of garlic – Chopped fine
1 ¼ lbs of turkey or ground beef – Your choice
1 Cup Red Wine
¼ tsp Onion Powder
¼ tsp Garlic Powder
¼ chili de arbol powder (if you can’t find chili de arbol powder,  substitute another chili powder)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne Chili Powder
1 28 oz can of Tomato sauce
1 28oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
1 6oz can of tomato paste
1 15oz can of Pinto Beans (Ranch Style Beans is a brand I like)
1 15oz can of Kidney Beans (Rinsed)
1 Heaping Tbs pureed Chipotles in Adobo (see Notes below)
1 Square Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate
1 Heaping Tbs of Honey

Plus your favorite Chili toppings

The Original List of Ingredients

Heat a large thick bottomed pot (I use a Le Cruset) over medium heat. Add your oil. Chop the onion and garlic fine. Feel free to use a food processor if you have one, but make sure not to puree the onions. You want some small finely chopped pieces not mush! Add your chopped onions to the pot and cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add your chopped garlic to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until you can smell the garlic aroma. Add ½ tsp of salt to the onions and garlic, add a few pinches of pepper.

Once your onions and garlic (Soffrito) are cooked, add your ground meat and directly season it with 1 tsp of salt. While the meat cooks, in a bowl combine the dried spices. Cook the ground meet until no pink remains. Add the red wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.

Next you are going to add your beans. If you are using Ranch Style Beans they come in a nice flavorful sauce, don’t rinse them. however rinse the kidney beans and if you use plain pinto beans, rinse those too. Once the beans are added, bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Add your dried spices, pureed chipotles in Adobo, Bakers Chocolate and honey. Stir and let come to a simmer. Remove from the heat and transfer into a slow cooker. Continue to cook in the slow cooker for 3 – 5 hours on low heat. Serve in a bowl topped with your favorite chili fixings – mine are sour cream, cheddar cheese and green onions.

A few Notes –

– Chipotles in Adobo are smoked jalapenos that come in a can and are usually found in the Latin section of the grocery store. Place the entire contents of the can in a food processor and blend until smooth. You will have leftovers after making the chili, which can last up to a month in your fridge. Adding some to mayo will make a great kicked up spread on your next sandwich!

Pureed Chipotles in Adobo

– If you don’t have a slow cooker or don’t want to transfer the chili, you can continue to cook the chili in a dutch oven (I use a Le Cruset) in your oven at around 225 degrees for several hours. Before placing your lid on the dutch oven place a sheet of tin foil over the chili to make sure none of the liquid evaporates.

– Chili is a great party food and Super Bowl parties are right around the corner! Get creative, you can use this chili recipe to make some delicious nacho’s and other fun snacks.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. kitchenarian says:

    Great story – I love a bowl of chili and this looks great. I have heard of putting chocolate in chili before, but my secret ingredient is cinnamon.

    I will need to try this recipe. There is some football game coming up soon…can’t quite remember the name of it, but that would be a good time to try this. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Cinnamon in chili is great! I actually put it in the original batch (You can see it listed in the picture of the ingredient list), but was out when I made this last week. You could defiantly add a 1 tsp if you would like. The chocolate adds a nice depth of flavor to the chili, you can really taste it. Enjoy!

  2. This looks and sounds great and very wonderful story

  3. This recipe sounds great! I may have to just make a batch of it on the 6th, when the Steelers beat the Packers 😉

    1. You won’t regret it!

  4. littleclove says:


    I really love the chipotle and chocolate additions! It is COLD here in chicago and I needed a new chili recipe.


  5. Yay! Chocolate in chili! 🙂 I will definitely have to try your version soon!

  6. Esther says:

    I remember this chili well!! We had great ERIK EATS during that hurricane!! Get him to post his other famous “use up all the stuff before we loose it” ingredients

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