Island Chilli from our friends Robert and Susan

Our friends Robert and Susan here on Big Island shared their award-winning Island Chilli recipe with us and kindly gave us permission to share it with you! This no-bean, all meat, medium heat chili brings together all the local flavors of island life. Ingredients listed here are from local ranches, farms and gardens, with two secret ingredients that bring it all tougher: Hawaiian Chili Pepper and Hawaiian Vanilla Bean Seeds! This classic dish will bring unique island aromas right to your kitchen. Thanks Robert and Susan!


Coffee Cookies

2 TBS Macadamia nut oil

2 pounds ground beef

Ground Hawaiian salt

Ground black pepper

1 Maui onion - small dice

1 yellow onion - small dice

2 Bell peppers -small dice

4 garlic cloves minced.

4 Hawaiian Chili peppers (seeds and all)

2 Hawaiian Vanilla beans

4 tsp EACH - ground cumin, smoked paprika and freshly dried oregano

2TBS chili powder

4 TBS tomato paste

2 Cup local beer

2 14 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes

2 8 ounce can tomato sauce

3 tsp EACH dark brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce

2 freshly dried whole Bay leaf

6 freshly roasted Cacao nibs - fine chopped


Optional garnishes - fresh cilantro, parsley, avocado, shredded cheese,

Optional for serving - tortilla chips, lime wedges


Step 1.

In a large Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat add the beef and cook unstirred until edges start to brown about 3 minutes.  Flip with large spatula. Season with salt and pepper.  Then break up beef into large crumbles.   Stir occasionally until until beef is browned but not thoroughly cooked.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer to bowl.

Step 2. 

Saute vegetables - still on medium heat (use oil left in pan or add some more if dry) cook onions, bell peppers and chili peppers about 5minutes until softened.  Add chili powder, vanilla bean seeds, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika and oregano.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until fragrant about a minute.  Add tomato paste stirring until past is caramelized - about 1-2 minutes.


Step 3.

Add liquids - add in the beer stirring and scraping bottom of pan to loosen  anything stuck on the bottom.  Cook 2 minutes then add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire, bay leaf and cacao nibs.  Add the beef and any juices in the bowl.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat.  Immediately reduce heat to simmer and cover.

Step 4.

Simmer - cook, uncovering a couple of times for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook 10 more minutes or until chili is thick and saucy. Remove bay leaf.

Step 5.

Cool and then refrigerate at least 24 hours before reheating and serving.  Enjoy

Recipe by Robert McKendry and Susan Van Orden


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