Smoky Jay's Chili Joy

Following up on my recent blog post about Where's There's Smoke There's Flavor, here is another of my favorite ways to use smoked sea salt and liquid smoke to add depth of flavor. 

When fall hits, I immediately want to start cooking classic Midwest-rooted comfort foods like soups, stews and chili. 

Soon I will share my favorite chili made with pork shoulder and bacon, but in the meantime here’s my “healthy” version, Smoky Jay's Chili Joy. 

Smoky Jay's Chili Joy is a favorite for crisp fall evenings

Smoky Jay's Chili Joy is a favorite for crisp fall evenings

Last year I was runner-up in a healthy Chili Cook-Off at Dr. David Diehl’s Maximized Life Chiropractic office (  It was a challenge to be limited to the list of his ingredients, but luckily I was allowed to use grass fed beef.  To give it as much flavor as possible,  I knew immediately that I would smoke out this chili with several key ingredients: smoked oil, smoked salt, chipotle peppers (which are smoke-dried jalapenos), and last but not least my secret smoky weapon – Liquid Smoke.  You can certainly substitute ground turkey, but why would you?!    

Smoky Jay’s Chili Joy

2 lbs. grass fed Ground Chuck

3 T Smoked Olive Oil

Smoked Sea Salt

Black Pepper

2 large Yellow Onions, chopped

5 cloves Garlic, minced

2 14.5 oz. cans Organic Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes

2 14.5 oz. cans Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes

1 T ground Cumin

1 T ground Coriander

½ cup low sodium Chicken Broth, or preferably homemade Chicken Stock

4 Chipotle Peppers, canned in Adobo Sauce

2 T Adobo from Chipotle Pepper can

3 15 oz. cans Organic Kidney Beans

¼ t. dashes Liquid Smoke

Season ground beef with salt and pepper.  Add one tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy pot.  Brown and cook half the meat thoroughly on medium high heat.  Strain and reserve in a large bowl.  Repeat with the remaining beef, adding the second tablespoon of olive oil before browning the second batch. 

Add the third tablespoon of oil to the pot and add the chopped onions.  Cook on medium-low for five minutes, scraping up the remaining ground beef bits.  Add the minced garlic and cook for one more minute.  Add the chicken broth and scrape up all the bits again.

Add the canned tomatoes, the reserved ground beef, and the rest of the ingredients. Adjust for seasoning. 

Serve with chopped avocado, minced yellow onion and lime wedges.

Cook’s Notes:

Use Liquid Smoke judiciously!  Chili is always best made a day or more ahead of when you plan to serve it.  When reheating it, add up to an additional ½ cup of chicken stock if necessary.

I love cooking soups stews and chili in my mother’s ancient Magnalite heavy aluminum pot

I love cooking soups stews and chili in my mother’s ancient Magnalite heavy aluminum pot

Tip:  There is always some controversy about beans or no beans in chili.  You can leave them out here if you like.  If you use the kidney beans and plan to freeze the chili for later use, don’t add the beans until ready to heat and serve, as they turn mushy when frozen.