Find a Park
October is National Chili Month!
As the weather starts to get cooler, there’s nothing more satisfying than a hearty bowl of chili. This spicy dish started gaining widespread recognition in the U.S. when it was introduced at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago by the San Antonio Chili Stand. And here’s something you may not know – chili has been the official state dish of Texas for nearly 40 years! Here are five different ways to cook some up on your next camping trip.
Time-saving tip: For recipes that call for ground beef or turkey, brown the meat at home and freeze it to save yourself one cooking step at the campground.
Simple Campground Chili
This is a very basic recipe that can be doctored up with additional spices and other ingredients such as chilies if you’d like.
- 1 lb. ground beef (at least 80% lean or higher)
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can kidney beans, undrained
- 1 10 ¾ oz. can condensed tomato soup
- 1 soup can water
- 2-3 teaspoons chili powder or more to taste
In a two-quart saucepan, cook beef, onion and salt over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is thoroughly cooked. Drain. Stir in remaining ingredients and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
Turkey Black Bean Chili
This version is a departure from the traditional recipes that call for beef and kidney or pinto beans.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large poblano chili, chopped
- 1 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 2 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes
- 2 cans (15 oz. each) reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons agave nectar (or 2 teaspoons sugar)
- Juice of one lime
- Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, bell pepper, chili and garlic for 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Add turkey, increase heat to high, and cook until it’s no longer pink, stirring often. Stir in tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and sweetener. Cover and bring chili to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors are blended (45 minutes to an hour). Stir in lime juice and serve with cheese.
Dutch Oven Chili and Cornbread
This recipe is based on using an 8-quart Dutch oven, so it can feed a crowd, but it can be adjusted downward if you’re using a smaller pot.
- 3 lbs. ground beef
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 6 oz. can of tomato paste
- 16 oz. can of kidney beans (or black beans)
- 5 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons of ground chipotle powder (if you want to add a smoky flavor)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 can of beer (or water)
- 2 8.5 oz. boxes of cornbread mix plus any ingredients called for on the package, such as eggs and milk
- Salt and pepper
Place a layer of hot coals on the ground, place the Dutch oven over the coals and allow the oven to get hot. Brown the ground beef, breaking up the meat with a spatula. Add the onions, garlic and peppers and cook until softened. Add the chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the beer (or water) and beans and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Next, make the cornbread mix according to package directions and pour it over the top of the chili. Place the lid on top of the Dutch oven and place about 20 hot coals over the top of the lid. Cook for about 10 minutes and check to see if the cornbread is done by inserting a skewer into it. If the skewer comes out clean, the chili and cornbread are done.
Vegetarian Five Can Chili
This meatless dish is still hearty because it contains two types of beans.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
- 1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed
- 1 can beer
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
Begin by preparing the chipotles. Be sure to scrape out the seeds and only use as many chipotles as your taste buds will allow, saving the adobo sauce. Roughly chop up the chilies and set them aside. If you prefer a milder chili, you can just use the adobo sauce without adding any chilies.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the drained kidney and black beans, tomatoes and their juices, chopped chilies and the adobo sauce (or only the adobo sauce), the beer, salt and spices. Stir to combine. Cook the chili until thickened to your liking, about 20 minutes or so. Serve immediately with your choice of toppings such as cheese, avocado or green onions along with cornbread on the side.
Campfire Chili Cheese Fries
The next time your fellow campers are craving some comfort food, try this easy foil packet recipe for chili cheese fries. You can even make it healthier by using lower-fat versions of the chili, cheese and fries.
- 1 small package of frozen French fries (not the family size)
- 1 can of chili
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Spray the inside of a large, doubled-up sheet of foil with cooking spray. Place the frozen fries in the middle of the sheet and fold to enclose. Cook the fries on your BBQ grill or over a campfire until done, about 15-20 minutes. Spread the chili and cheese over the fries, close the packet up again and cook until the chili is hot and the cheese has melted. Allow mixture to cool slightly before enjoying.