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.

About Jim Cooper

Longtime Virginian originally from the West with an interest in food and drink from both places as well as vintage cocktails.
This entry was posted in Beer, Food. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s