Chunky Beef and Syrah Chili on

It’s cold out—warm up with some chili

The pool was frozen this morning.

In Napa.

For, like, the tenth morning in a row.


In Napa.

Not frozen enough to skate on, of course. I mean, it’s Napa. But still enough to create a layer of ice about as thick as a window pane. That might not sound like much—but again, it’s been about ten days. We’ve had a frozen pool here or there before, but nothing like this.

All of which is to say—and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this if you live in North Dakota or even North Carolina—it’s cold.

Happily, the low temperatures have coincided with a chili cook-off class I was preparing for (which unfortunately got cancelled). I needed to double-check a few of the recipes, so we’ve been awash in chili. And it’s been just the thing to chase the cold.

I made Smoky Pork, Bacon, and White Bean Chili, a recipe I developed for the National Pork Board. I made Turkey Chili Verde, a recipe in “The Clean Plates Cookbook.” I made a chicken chili, which we enjoyed with friends on New Years Eve, and I invented a vegetarian chili with black beans and espresso. I also made one of my old favorites, from “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates,” Chunky Beef and Syrah Chili.

Easy on the chile powder and laced with herbs like sage and oregano, Chunky Beef and Syrah Chili (pictured, click for the recipe) pairs perfectly with—you guessed it—Syrah, also a good choice for these cold days and nights. But that’s a topic for another day.

The abundant leftovers, stashed in the freezer, have made for easy, warming lunches and dinners. I can hear my husband heating some up now and it smells pretty good. Plus, I’m noticing my fingers and toes are cold again.

Time for another bowl.


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