I like thick chili and I cannot lie. Ain’t nobody got time for soupy, watery chili. And, yes, that totally still applies when we’re talking nightshade free chili, too.
I nearly called this Kinda Chile Con Carne, but that did seem like a stretch considering that there are literally no chiles in here at all. Since this is my AIP take on chili, there are no tomatoes or seed spices, either. But what you DO get with my nightshade free chili is that rich, comforting, heartiness that a good bowl of chili brings to you, without fail.
The base of my nightshade free chili is similar to the nomato sauce that makes the base of my Classic Nomato Meat Sauce. Here that sauce is tempered with the addition of more savory elements like extra onion, rich beef broth and additional mushrooms to bring some umami to the table and play down the acidity of my tomato-less sauce bases.
Obviously, the seasoning blend is very different with a nightshade free chili than the Italian profile of the Meat Sauce. This one goes heavy on Mexican oregano and dried cilantro leaves (not to be confused with coriander, which is the seed of the same plant and not elimination phase friendly) and has a hint of ground ginger for spice.
For an extra depth of flavor, I like to add a good spoon of lightly roasted carob powder, much like the way I used to add a square or two of dark chocolate to heighten the flavors in my traditional chili recipe back in the day.
This isn’t a difficult recipe to make, but because I like to let it simmer a while to bring all the flavors together, it’s best made at the weekend when you’re not in a rush. That way, you’ve got a couple of weeknight dinners stashed away in your fridge or freezer later in the week.
Just like a traditional chili recipe, this nightshade free chili is so thick and hearty that you can load it up with toppings to your heart’s content. I whipped up these bowls topped with avocado, sliced red onion, thinly sliced radishes, cilantro, green onion and some sweet potato chips for crunch.
Not pictured, but just as delicious, are these plantain strips, which remind me a little of crumbling tortilla chips on top!
Now, this nightshade free chili is delicious straight up, but if you want it to go a little further, you have lots of options! I like to spoon it on top of baked sweet potatoes and then drizzle it with my dairy free cheese sauce to make loaded chili cheese taters, or pile it on top of spaghetti squash, kind of Cincinnati style. Leftovers go great in burrito bowls instead of taco beef, or make for a stellar breakfast on top of plantain or cassava waffles.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on how great it goes over sweet potato fries. One of thee days I’ve gotta photograph my AIP chili cheese fries for you guys! For now, try spooning this nightshade free chili recipe over my Ultimate Loaded Nachos instead. Glorious!
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups / 420 g diced yellow onion (about 2 small-medium)
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 lb / 454 g carrots, grated coarsely
- ½ lb / 225 g beets, grated coarsely OR 8 oz / 225 g drained, canned sliced beets (see notes)
- 8 oz / 225 g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tsp / 5 g fine sea salt, divided
- 1 cup / 240 ml red wine
- 4 cups / 960 ml beef broth
- 2 lbs / 900 g lean ground beef
- 1 cup / 240 g butternut squash puree
- ¼ cup / 60 ml red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup / 60 ml lemon juice
- 2 tbsp / 4 g dried oregano
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp / 2 g dried cilantro leaves
- 1 tbsp / 8 g roasted carob powder
- 2 tsp / 5 g ground ginger
- 2 tsp / 8 g garlic powder
- SOFTEN: Pour the oil into a dutch oven on the stove top over low-medium heat. Add the diced onion & garlic, cooking until the onion is translucent but not browned, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add the grated carrots, grated beets (if using), sliced mushrooms, 1 tsp / 5 g of the fine sea salt, the wine and broth, making sure the vegetables are completely covered with liquid. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer, and cover the dutch oven with the lid, while leaving some space for steam to escape. Cook until the carrots are softened, about 20 minutes.
- BROWN: While the vegetables are simmering, brown the ground beef. Season the meat with the remaining 1 tsp / 5 g of fine sea salt and, working in batches as needed in a large skillet, cook the meat through until the fat has rendered and the meat is just beginning to brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the browned meat to a bowl lined with a few layers of paper towel to drain. Reserve for later.
- BLEND: Once the carrots are softened, remove the dutch oven from the heat and transfer it to a trivet. Add the canned beets (if you didn't use fresh beets earlier), butternut squash puree, red wine vinegar and lemon juice to the dutch oven. Use an immersion blender to blend until everything is combined into a sauce. This will take a good 3 - 4 minutes, so be patient and keep blending until it's really smooth!
- SIMMER: Return the dutch oven to the stove top over low heat. Add the browned drained beef, dried oregano, cilantro, carob, ground ginger and garlic powder. Stir through and bring the chili to a very gentle simmer, not enough for the sauce to spit or splatter. Simmer the chili until the meat breaks down and combines with the sauce and the liquid reduces and thickens, at least 30 minutes. If you like, you can add a little extra broth to thin the chili a little.
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