Suzi's Blog

Suzen’s Chili with Beans, Steak and Tequila

Better Suzen Chili

On Sunday, watching both the Super Bowl and the commercials, Suzen and I wanted food prepared in advance, easy to serve and as spicy as the New Orleans setting.

Suzen had some leftover steak and a friend who had sample the meat said, “Make chili!” Great advice. This recipe cooks for hours but that’s good because your kitchen will be totally aromatic.

We used six dried chilies, three of them ancho, and the other three were dried, red and hot. This is a panty-clearing option for you. How do you know if you have enough chilies, the right chilies? It’s simple. After you have soaked and blended the chilies into a puree, take a whiff or a taste. If it blasts you off your feet, cures sinus problems, and make you search for a beer, you have succeeded. [That means, if the mixture is not earth shaking yet, you’ll need to add another chile, which means you’ll want to soak a couple of extra ones. Don’t worry. You can always put those extra pods to use. For example, blend the leftover chilies with mayonnaise for a different chip dip.]

Suzen’s Chili with Beans, Steak and Tequila

Yield: serves 8


  • 1 pound cooked red beans [discussed below]
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 dried ancho chilies, toasted and seeded
  • 3 other dried chilies, toasted and seeded
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano [Mexican variety preferred], crumbled
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste [very likely you’ll use more]
  • ½ to 1 pound cooked steak, cut into small, bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
  • Chopped white onion for garnish, optional
  • Shredded cheese for garnish, optional
  • Sliced avocado for garnish, optional


Prepare the beans by putting them in a large pot and covering with water. Add a teaspoon of Mexican oregano and a bay leaf. Cook over medium heat for 1 ½ hour until the beans are tender, but not falling apart. Remove the bay leaf.

While the beans are cooking, soak the toasted chilies in very hot water for 30 minutes to soften. Only use enough water to just cover the chilies. Put the chilies in a blender and discard the soaking water. Add the oregano and tomatoes. Blend until as smooth as possible. [This is precisely the situation where a Vitamix is preferable to a conventional blender. The Vitamix will produce a perfectly smooth product for you.]

Strain the cooked beans and return to their pot. You may wish to save some of the bean water to thin the dish out as it cooks. Add the pureed chili mixture to the beans. Add the bay leaves, salt and sliced steak. Cover and begin to cook.

In a skillet with a little olive oil, fry the onion until it starts to brown. Add the onion and the tequila to the beans. All to cook for at least 30 minutes so the flavors can blend.

Serve then, with the garnishes. Alternatively, remove from the heat for up to two hours, then reheat and serve.

Left overs can be frozen and delectably desired later.

Serving options include straight in the bowl, over chips, or over rice. White rice flavored with cilantro is an excellent option.


Source: Suzen O’Rourke



Michael’s Pedernales River Chili

Chili or chile? Bean only, meat only, or both?

My son Michael settled on “chili” and has offered this chili recipe at the annual Halloween party for years. It’s a great recipe, full of meat and beans. It’s easily scaled up for a party size and can be cooked ahead of time. You can even freeze the leftovers, but there won’t be any.

The original recipe called for round steak or chuck. Here we are substituting fajita meat. Yes, it comes packaged in plastic bag as is filled with flavoring stuff. Very good for chili.

Make this the morning or afternoon of your party, let it simmer for hours, then crank up the heat and serve hot with sour cream, diced onions and shredded cheese. This recipe is as healthy or unhealthy as you want it to be.

This is one of those infinitely variable recipes. Feel free to add more or less beans. You can make it 2 tablespoons, not teaspoons, of oregano. Let your taste buds guide. Remember this, you can always add some more heat at the end by stirring in more chili powder, green chilies or chili sauce. It is very hard to unheat a dish. Taste test along the way and you won’t go wrong.


Michael’s Pedernales River Chili

Yield: 10+ servings


  • 2 tablespoons of oil for each batch of fajita meat being browned
  • 8 pounds of packaged fajita meat
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground onion
  • 1 tablespoon red chili pepper
  • 2 7-ounce cans of diced green chiles, mild
  • 3 14-ounces cans of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 15 -ounce casn kidney beans
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium heat and add the fajitas. Cook until lightly browned. The packaged fajitas will release a lot of liquid. Pour off the liquid, allow the meet to cool, then dice to bite size pieces. You will probably need to cook the 8 pounds of fajitas if 4 stages.

If necessary, add some more oil to the pan. Sweat the onions, add the garlic just at the end and cook it lightly. Don’t burn the garlic.

Put the cut fajitas, cooked onion and garlic, and all the other ingredients in very large pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for an hour or slightly more. Skim occasionally. Season with salt.

If the party is some time off, turn off the heat and keep the pot covered. Check to make sure the mixture never cools to room temperature and, if necessary, add some heat to get the chili back to hot. Just before serving, crank the heat one last time to have the chili hot enough to melt the grated cheese you will crown it with.

Source: Michael O’Rourke