Old Ike’s Cowboy Chili

This chili recipe was given to me by an in-law who supposedly learned it from an old Utah cowboy named Ike. According to the story Ike always had the same pot of it simmering on the stove in his trailer and just kept adding ingredients every day to top off. Hoping that part was cowboy lore.

A neighbor I made it for used the recipe with chicken to win a local chili cook-off so I know it’s a good one. I decided to try a campfire version on a fire I built to melt some sealing wax for my new shiitake logs.


  • 3 pounds of beef chuck, pork shoulder, or boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into cubes the size of the end of your thumb.  I sometimes mix beef and pork.
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • Can or bottle of beer
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 10 oz. can green enchilada sauce
  • 4 oz. beef broth
  • Juice from one lime
  • 2 teaspoons taco or adobo spice
  • 1 dried chipotle chili pod
  • Sriracha sauce for heat to taste
  • Two 15 oz. cans of ranch style or supermarket chili beans (yeah, this ain’t a Texas recipe)


  • Cilantro
  • Shredded Jack or Queso Fresca Cheese
  • Diced Green onions
  • More Sriracha for thems that like more heat

Serve with cornbread, warm flour tortillas or tortilla chips


  • Cut up meat and set aside in bowl to marinade in 1/4 cup of the beer and a tablespoon of the adobo or taco seasoning and a tablespoon of the green enchilada sauce, while you get your fire to cooking condition
  • Brown the meat in a deep cast iron skillet by stir frying it for 3 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and sauté the onions and green chilis until onions are softened and turn golden.  Add the tomatoes and cook 2 minutes more.
  • Add the meat back to the pan along with whatever of the bottle of beer you didn’t drink, the lime juice, tomato sauce, enchilada sauces,  beef broth, and the dried chili.  Let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add salt to taste.
  • Add both cans of chili beans with their sauce and simmer an additional hour with the pan covered, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom’s not burning. Add Sriracha to taste.
  • Ladle the chili into bowls and top with shredded cheese and/or sour cream, diced green onions, and cilantro.  Serve with warm flour tortillas or cornbread and a side salad.
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The Chimayo Cocktail

One of my favorite restaurants, Rancho de Chimayo in Chimayo, NM, makes a very interesting apple cider based cocktail, the only one I’ve ever had.  One doesn’t normally associate fresh apple cider with booze but this concoction works really well.  The bar there has a wonderful fireplace where I could happily while away the late afternoon and evening hours after a day exploring the Sangre de Cristo and before or after a great meal at one of their terrace tables.   My lovely daughter made these for us on Christmas eve and in the photo below I show one in front of our own fire.


  • 1 1/2 oz. gold tequila
  • 1 oz. apple cider
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. crème de cassis
  • Slice of apple

Half fill an 8 oz. cocktail glass with ice.   Pour all the ingredients over the ice and stir.  Garnish with an apple slice.

For more on Restaurante Rancho de Chimayo:


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Fusion Cabbage and Mushroom Pho

Decided some Asian soup would be good on a cold Winter night so made a fusion pho.  Funny since Vietnam’s not really a cold place.  Rather than boil beef bones all day I make a shortcut pho broth from supermarket beef broth that’s quick, easy, and tasty. I call it fusion because it includes some Chinese ingredients, Penzey’s five spice powder, oyster sauce, and hoisin.


  • 32 oz. carton of beef broth
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons diced ginger
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small head of cabbage
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • Fish sauce
  • Hoisin sauce or brown sugar
  • Five Spice Powder
  • Oyster sauce
  • 3 large of 5 medium sized mushrooms
  • 2 green onions sliced
  • 1/2 pound rare steak

Here’s how I  make it:

  1. Pour a 32 oz. container of beef broth into a soup pot and warm to a simmer.
  2. Dice a small onion and wrap the pieces in foil along with a tablespoon of ginger. Put the foil package in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
  3. Cut up a small head of cabbage and sauté in 3 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside
  4. Put the baked onion and ginger from the foil packet into the soup pot. Turn the heat up to boil the broth for a few seconds then back down to a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the juice from half a lime, several squirts of fish sauce, two shakes of the five spice powder, and a couple of squirts of hoisin. If you don’t have hoisin, use a tablespoon of brown sugar.
  6. Cut up three large or five medium size mushrooms and sauté in the frying pan in an additional tablespoon of vegetable oil. When mushrooms soften, add a couple of glops (the scientific term for a tablespoon) of oyster sauce and stir until all the mushrooms are coated.
  7. Remove the onion and ginger pieces from the broth with a strainer and discard
  8. Divide the cabbage and mushrooms evenly in the bowls and ladle the broth over them.
  9. Add the steak and green onion pieces to the bowls and serve immediately with Siracha and hoisin sauce.  Accompany with a glass of beer.
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