Spicy No Bean Chili

I really love a GOOD chili. I’ve had several great chilis in my past, but I’ve definitely had a lot of… not so great chilis. Growing up, my mom would make a really good chili that we would eat with white rice. While she usually made the chili with beans, I preferred mine without beans. Not that I’m against legumes, I just feel like the texture of beans gets in the way of the meatiness if that makes sense?

The chili I made last night differs from my mom’s recipe that I usually make, but it turned out really great and had a lot of meatiness and a hint of spice without being overpowering. The bacon fat is key in adding extra richness and smokiness. The habanero also adds a slightly fruity flavor which was a nice surprise. 

Every cook I’ve talked to has their own way of making their chili and I would love to hear your favorite chili recipes! Please leave a comment with your favorite twist on homemade chili! 


Servings: 4

  • 1 lb of ground beef (85/15)
  • 1 Cubanelle pepper finely diced
  • 1 Carrot finely diced
  • 1 Onion finely diced
  • 2 Garlic cloves finely diced
  • 2 Celery sticks finely diced
  • 1 Habanero minced
  • 1 Can of Diced Tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • 1 Can of Tomato Sauce (15 oz)
  • 2 tsp of Cumin
  • 3 tsp of Chili Powder 
  • 2 Tbsp of Bacon Fat
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheese of choice (optional)


  1. Heat up bacon fat in Dutch oven or stockpot on medium heat.
  2. Once heated, add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery and cook on medium heat.
  3. After 5 minutes, add the cubanelle pepper and continue to cook and stir the vegetables until softened (about 7 more minutes).
  4. After the vegetables are softened and slightly caramelized, make a well in the center of your pot (make a border of the mixed vegetables) and add in your ground beef.
  5. Let the beef cook and brown on one side before mixing up the ground beef and vegetables and continue cooking until the beef is no longer pink.
  6. Add in the cumin and chili pepper and allow the spices to cook until fragrant and then add in the canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.
  7. Stir the chili and add in the habanero and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Lower to low heat, put a lid on the pot and let the chili stew for about 1 hour. Don’t forget to stir every so often to make sure the chili isn’t burning!
  9. Stir the chili before serving. If wanted, serve the chili with cheese and any garnish of choice (I like sour cream and slices of avocado but didn’t have any on hand).

I had a box of Trader Joe’s cornbread mix but didn’t have any vegetable oil, so I used coconut oil and it resulted in a coconutty, deeelicuous, moist cornbread with a nice crust from my cast iron skillet! 


Chicken Nanban with Japanese Sweet Potato Salad

Chicken nanban is a crispy chicken dish which originated in the Kyushu region of Japan. Nanban, which directly translates to “European” in Old Japanese, comes from the influence of European traders and missionaries in Japan during the 17th century. The chicken is usually deep fried, but my version is a liiiiittle bit healthier since it’s pan-fried. Once the chicken’s been fried, it is lightly seasoned with a sweet, sour and savory sauce. Chicken nanban is traditionally served with tartar sauce, but mine is served with a quick Japanese sweet potato salad and some tossed arugula.

The Japanese sweet potato, (which I am loooooorve) has purple skin and a golden yellow flesh. A little more mild in sweetness than a yam or regular sweet potato, they can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. I like to make Japanese sweet potato muffins when I have the sweet potatoes on hand, but they are also equally delicious simply roasted in the oven and served with a little coarse sea salt and butter.

The Japanese sweet potato salad is a great side dish to Japanese chicken dishes, like the Chicken nanban, but also pairs well with panko fried chicken (chicken katsu). This particular recipe calls for rice vinegar to be added to the potato salad, but if using Japanese mayonnaise (such as Kewpie), you can omit the rice vinegar.

Note: Though this recipe uses a bone-in-skin-on chicken thigh, chicken breast can also be used. If using chicken breast, cut each breast horizontally so you have 2 to 3 thin pieces of chicken. The chicken breast will only need to be pan-fried and does not require any oven time.

I food styled this shoot, and the photos were shot and are owned by White Loft Studio*


Servings: 2

2 Bone-In-Skin-On Chicken Thighs
1 Japanese Sweet Potato sliced into 1/2 inch thick coins
1 Inch Piece Ginger grated
3½ Tablespoons Rice Vinegar divided into 2 tbsp and 1.5 tbsp
1 Tablespoon Mirin
1½ Tablespoons Soy Sauce
½ Teaspoon Aleppo Pepper (can be subbed with any red pepper flakes or omitted completely)
1 Shallot minced and divided
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Baby Carrot thinly sliced horizontally
3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
3 Ounces Arugula


Step 1: Boil the Japanese sweet potatoes

Set oven to 350°F.
Bring a small pot of water to boil over high heat. Add Japanese sweet potato coins and boil for 20 minutes.
Drain and set aside.


Step 2: Make the Ginger Sauce

In small bowl, whisk ginger, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, and aleppo pepper (if desired).
Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and whisk until combined. Add the minced shallot and combine. Set sauce aside.


Step 3: Dredge the Chicken Thighs

Crack eggs into medium bowl and whisk to break the yolks.
Dust each chicken thigh with our and then dip in whisked eggs to coat. Place dredged chicken thighs on plate.



Step 4: Fry the Chicken

Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in oven proof skillet over high heat. Once skillet is very hot and just starting to smoke, place chicken skin-side down. Let fry 5-7 minutes, then ip and cook another 5 minutes on the other side.
Place skillet in oven to finish cooking for 10 minutes.


Step 5: Make the Japanese Sweet Potato Salad

Once cool enough to handle, peel sweet potatoes. Mash the cooked sweet potatoes in small bowl and add the rest of the rice vinegar and let cool.
Add carrots, remaining minced shallots, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper and mayonnaise. Mix to combine.


Step 6: Make the Arugula Salad

In medium bowl, toss arugula with 2 tbsp of the ginger sauce prepared in step 2.


Plate the Dish

Place one chicken thigh on each plate. Divide arugula and Japanese sweet potato salad between the two plates.
Drizzle 2 tbsp ginger dressing over the crispy chicken (you may have extra ginger sauce leftover.)


*These photos shot by White Loft Studio were from a recipe kit start-up that is now defunct