Award-Winning Chili

[Beer and Wine Journal mostly features content focusing on how to make beer and some other fermented beverage whose name escapes me. Sometimes, however, we’ll post a food-related article if it has a tie-in to beer. This is one of those times.]


A lot of food blogs make you wade through some long, nearly-irrelevant personal anecdote before they finally get to the recipe. I hate that. You hate that. Everyone hates that, so I’ll keep this short and to the point.

Below is a chili recipe that I made and that won the 2018 Austin ZEALOTS Chili Cookoff. This was the 15th year the ZEALOTS (my homebrew club) held the cookoff in conjunction with the holiday party, so I was very honored to win. The recipe is mostly a variation on a recipe I found in Texas Monthly and had made a few times. That recipe, in turn, was a modification of a previous recipe that had won some awards in CASI competitions. (What’s CASI? It’s like the BJCP for chili.) This recipe has quite a few ingredients but is inherently simple to make — just cook the meat and “gravy,” then add the spices and simmer. The biggest key to success is using fresh spices. I’ve added some specifics about the spices I used, but ordinary supermarket spices should work just fine. The second biggest key is to simmer it as gently as possible — and stir frequently enough that it doesn’t scorch.

This chili is spicy, but not ludicrously so. If you like kung pao chicken or chicken vindaloo, you’ll be in the same ballpark of spicing level. Enjoy!


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Barbecued Beef Ribs (II: Practice)

In the first part of this article, I discussed the basic idea behind barbecuing beef ribs. In this final section, I’ll discuss the details of how you can do it on a home charcoal smoker or charcoal grill. 



Barbecued beef short ribs

There are various kinds of beef ribs. As beef ribs are less popular than pork ribs, you may not have the option of choosing the cut. Most commonly, you’ll find beef short ribs (or plate short ribs). These are the toughest cut of beef ribs, with the most connective tissue, but also the flavorful when properly prepared. This is what I barbecue when I make beef ribs.

Beef back ribs and chuck short ribs are two other cuts of beef ribs. These are meatier cuts, but less flavorful. If the ribs are labelled simply beef short ribs, they are usually plate (not chuck) short ribs. When selecting your ribs, look for ribs that are as meaty as possible. Plate short ribs contain less meat than the other cuts, so look for the meatiest you can find.

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Barbecued Beef Ribs (I: Theory)

Beef ribs are neither beer nor wine, nor does my recipe (which I’ll give tomorrow) include either of these  — although I heartily recommend enjoying a tasty beer while smoking the ribs. Still, I wanted to post an article on beef ribs because I know a lot of brewers also have an interest in grilling and smoking. 



Giant beef rib at Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas.

I used to prefer pork ribs over beef ribs when I went to a barbecue joint. Pork ribs always seemed more tender, juicy, and flavorful compared to beef ribs, which often seemed either lacking in flavor or tough and dry. Then I went to Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas. Their specialty is giant beef ribs and so I tried one — and believe me, one is all you need; their giant beef ribs look like something out of the Flintstones.

I was blown away. Their beef ribs were very flavorful and tender. In a lot of ways, the flavor of properly smoked beef ribs is similar to brisket. This isn’t surprising as brisket is the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscle from beef, and is located near the ribs.

Black’s beef ribs were not “fall off the bone” tender. Rather, they were moist and easily separated from the bone with a bite. You can get the “fall off the bone” character if you grill or smoke the ribs lightly, then braise them in the oven or stew them in a crock pot. You could also use sous vide cooking methods for this.

However, I like to prepare my beef ribs entirely in the smoker. So I don’t ever boil them. I want the full, smoked flavor of ribs cooked entirely in the smoker. As I found out, it isn’t easy to replicate Black’s style of beef rib preparation. However, with some research and multiple smoking sessions, I finally got it right.  [Read more…]

Top 10 Homebrewing Recipes of 2014

BWJlogoWe post a fair amount of recipes on Beer and Wine Journal. Here are the ten that got the most traffic in 2014.

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Thanksgiving Recipes


Mmmm . . . turkey.

Beer and Wine Journal is mostly about brewing, with a little winemaking and mead making content thrown in. But we also run the occasional story about food. Last year, I posted one Thanksgiving beer recipe (Cranberry Zinger) and one beer recipe that uses a typical Thanksgiving ingredient (Sweet Potato ESB). We also have a Pumpkin Beer recipe, if that’s your thing. I also posted a variety of Thanksgiving food recipes, which I summarize here.

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Jalapeño Cheddar Beer Bread

We occasionally run cooking with beer stories. And we occasionally run an article by a guest writer. Today we’re are doing both things . . . and adding cheese. This is my sister’s Jalapeño Cheddar Beer Bread.


DSC_0277_2Jalapeño Cheddar Beer Bread

by Emily Colby



3 cups self-rising flour

1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

2 jalapeños or other hot peppers (chopped)

2 tbsp cilantro (chopped)

12 ounces of lager beer

1 egg yolk (optional)

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Navy Bean, Smoked Sausage, and Beer Soup


Mmmm . . . Navy bean soup.

This is my recipe for Navy bean, sausage, and beer soup. It’s a modification of the Dried Bean Soup recipe from the 1964 edition of “Joy of Cooking” (p. 152). I searched the internet for Navy bean soup recipes and found a couple interesting variations on the general theme. One recipe used smoked pork sausage instead of the usual ham hock, and I adopted that idea. Some recipes also cooked the beans in chicken stock and I used that idea, too. Then, of course, I added beer. I used cheap beer, left over from grilling, but any malty beer would probably work just as well.

I’ve made this soup twice now, once with Navy beans and once with lima beans. Probably any kind of white bean would work. I made both batches using triple the amount of ingredients listed below and yielded about a gallon (~4 L). Soup freezes well, so now I have a ton of leftovers that I can reheat whenever I want.

So, enjoy the recipe and don’t worry – I’ll post something brewing related later today.

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Beer Lowers the Level of Carcinogens in Grilled Pork


Grilled pork chops . . . now less likely to kill me thanks to the power of beer!

Science has been on a roll recently, even by scientific standards. In 2013, CERN confirmed that they had detected the Higgs boson, a particle that was theorized to exist back in the mid 60s, and one that plays a central role in the Standard Model of particle physics. This year, astrophysicists announced the detection of gravitational waves that appear to confirm the inflationary hypothesis of standard cosmology. (Cosmic inflation is the theory that the universe — while still less than one second old, and very, very hot — expanded at greater than the speed of light for a fraction of a second.)

Yesterday, however, a discovery was announced that holds great personal importance to me — scientists announced that marinading pork chops in beer lowers the amount of a carcinogen known to come from grilling. Science, beer, and grilled pork all came together in one wonderful result — beer is good!

Specifically, here’s what the study found. Pork chops marinaded in beer exhibited lowered levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) after being grilled on a charcoal grill, compared to non-marinaded pork chops.

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Chicken in Witbier


Chicken in witbier

A few weeks ago, I found a recipe for chicken in beer at the Saveur website. Since this was one thing I like in another thing I like, I decided to try it and it turned out great. The second time I prepared it, I made some modifications and I present that recipe below. Specifically, I decided to withhold the bacon until the end (so it stayed crispy), and to sauté the onions in the leftover bacon fat. I also added garlic and subtracted the juniper berries from the original recipe (because of the added coriander and orange peel in the witbier).

The recipe is very easy to make. It takes a bit of chopping, but once that’s done, just let the dish simmer until you’re ready to eat. The second time I made this, I made a double batch of the sauce overnight in my large slow cooker. The longer cooking time lead to a darker sauce and the vegetables broke down more, but it was still tasty. Also, because the steam couldn’t escape the crock pot, the sauce was thinner. However, whether cooking for a longer or shorter period of time, in a pot versus a slow cooker, the recipe is going to turn out tasting great.  [Read more…]

Turkey Noodle Soup


About 10 quarts (10 L) of turkey noodle soup cooling on my stovetop.

Leftover Week continues with turkey noodle soup. Mmmm . . . turkey noodle soup. This is what you make turkey stock for.


Turkey Noodle Soup 

by Chris Colby



Insanely good

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