Sommerfest Chilli

Sommerfest Chilli

For the last few years, we’ve had a party around August 1, the Swiss national holiday. One of the favourite dishes was our chilli. Although there’s no party this year, we didn’t want to keep our secrets from you, so here’s the recipe for the chilli – scaled down from the 5kg of ground beef we usually prepare.


  • 1 kg ground beef
  • 2 large onions, small dice
  • 1 250g can red beans
  • 2 250g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans of beer
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder
  • ½ tbsp. ground cumin

Take the meat out of the refrigerator, lay it on a tray, and let it come to room temperature, so that it will sear, rather than ‘boil” when it goes into the pan. Open a can of beer and taste test it.

Heat the oil in a wide-bottomed saucepan, add the onions, and sweat over a high heat for 5-8 minutes without allowing it to colour (you will need to keep stirring). Try the beer again to ensure it still tastes good.

Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the onions making sure that the meat is covering the base of the pan. Leave for about 5-6 minutes, so that the meat seals underneath and heats through completely, before you start stirring (otherwise it will ooze protein and liquid and it will ‘boil’ rather than sear). Take care, though, that the onions don’t burn – add a splash of beer, if necessary, to stop this happening. Taste the beer again.

Stir the meat and onions every few minutes for about 10-12 minutes. until the meat starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the spices and let them cook a bit to develop the aroma. Add the beans and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring and drinking beer all the time.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the second can of beer. Since the first can of beer is now probably empty, take a hefty swig out of the second one, and pour the rest into the chilli. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 1 ½ hours, adding a little extra water if necessary from time to time, until you have a thick sauce. In the mean time, fetch another beer or three. Add some more chilli powder if you want. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, sliced jalepenos etc. to taste.

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