Hearty at Home: Ben Brainard’s Chili Fights Recipe

These midwinter days are short and frigid, and often leave us clamoring for a hot, comforting meal to cozy up to. To answer that appetite call, we went straight to the newly minted people’s choice winner of The Hat Club’s Chili Fights in The Heights, Ben Brainard, who developed this recipe for the Jill Kamps for District Judge team.

Ben Brainard’s Chili Fights Recipe 

Serves: 10


  • 1/4 lb. rehydrated kidney beans
  • 1/3 jalapeño
  • 5/8 tsp. toasted cumin
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. Count Porkula smoked brisket, bite-sized cubes 
  • 3 1/4 cups beef stock
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups bell pepper, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups San Marzano tomatoes, 
  • crushed by hand
  • 3 1/4 tbsp. cumin
  • 3 1/4 tbsp. New Mexican chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 1/3 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper


  1. Cook beans according to instructions on the package with jalapeño and toasted cumin seed, then set aside.
  2. Brown ground beef on high heat and season with salt and pepper. Once browned, remove from heat to rest and discard fat from the pan. 
  3. Cook onions in the remaining pan on medium and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Once onions are soft, add bell pepper and garlic and cook on low.
  5. Add in tomatoes and the rested beef, then turn heat up to high and add beef stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook beef and vegetables for an hour, adding water as necessary. 
  6. Once beef is cooked through and tender, add dry spices. Then add tomatoes and cook on medium-low for 30 minutes. 
  7. Add beans with brine and cook for 15 minutes on medium-low. 
  8. Stir in cubed brisket and cook for an additional 10 minutes on medium-low. Season to taste and serve with preferred toppings.

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