Recipe: Smoky Beef Chili and (killer) Paleo Corn Bread

Another winner at the Couchsurfing buffet! Beef chili and cornbread.

Cool weather means something warm and homey on the table. What’s better than a steaming bowl of hearty beef chili and a big hunk of butter-slathered cornbread?

A short history

Chili and cornbread were both economically viable food options for people in the American Southwest, particularly along the cattle trails that ran from Texas to Kansas. Corn meal, which is used to make cornbread, was a cheaper and more readily available resource than wheat flour, while beef was plentiful. The influence of Mexican culture informed the preparation of the meat, so the two food stuffs came together to produce the (very delicious) combo that’s come down to the present.”

Because some of my peeps are Paleo, this cornbread has no corn in it. It’s technically an almond cake. I reduced the vanilla to pull it closer to savory, but it’s up to you. Looks just like cornbread, too, so if Paleo is your preference, you will love this. And it comes together pretty easily. I also amped up the heat in the chili by doubling the chipotle, but that’s your choice. You can switch out the protein with turkey or chicken, or be courageous and do a combo of beef and pork, or lamb.

What’s in front of everyone on the table would be a big bowl of savory chili, completely customized by the individual’s preferred toppings (see recipe below), a big square of cornbread and a nice, crisp green salad.

Soul satisfying.

Smoky Beef and Bacon Chili w/Fixin’s
Serves 4


1/4 pound bacon
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/2 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/4 can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)


In a large kettle, brown the ground beef, sea salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, and ground chipotle pepper. Stir often while cooking until the beef is cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. While the beef is cooking, I like to prep the onion, sweet potato, and butternut squash.

Combine the diced onion, sweet potato, and butternut squash. Add to the cooked, seasoned ground beef. On top of this, add the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and fish sauce. I know, weird. Why fish sauce of all things? The fish sauce gives a savory flavor that adds a nice backbone of umami. It’s optional, but I highly recommend it.

Stir all the ingredients until combined, then cook for one to two hours on med-high.

Stir once or twice through the cooking process if you can. Adjust the seasoning with black pepper and sea salt.

Let your family and friends customize their dinner. Serve chili with various bowls of fixin’s like grated cheddar, chopped green onions, toasted slivered almonds, sour cream, chopped cilantro, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, and so on.  Serve next to a green side salad and a big square of Paleo corn bread (below) for a complete meal.


Cornbread (Paleo) – you won’t miss the corn!
Serves 4


1/4 cup ghee / melted butter
1/8 cup coconut oil (I used ALL ghee and it was wonderful)
3 pastured eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 cup honey (to taste)
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat oven to 325,  Generously grease an 8×8 pan with coconut oil or line the pan with parchment paper.

Melt butter and coconut oil in the microwave or over slow heat on stove top. Stir in and combine with eggs, vanilla and honey.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and sea salt.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until they are combined well (don’t over-beat). Pour into your pan and stick it in the 325 oven for 20-25 minutes.

Test with a fork or toothpick in the center. When it comes out clean, this is done.