beef and turkey chili with caramelized onions

This chili recipe brings me back to childhood. My mom's secret ingredients for chili included bacon, caramelized onions and barbeque sauce. A bit of a departure from the normal chili flavor, this sweet and tangy chili is perfect for a cold winter night with a glass of Malbec or Syrah.


  • Bacon (2 slices, chopped)

  • White onion (1 whole, chopped into thin half moons using knife or mandoline)

  • Butter (1 tablespoon)

  • White sugar (2 teaspoons)

  • Balsalmic vinegar (1 teaspoon)

  • Ground beef (1/2 pound)

  • Ground turkey (1/2 pound)

  • Salt (1 teaspoon)

  • Ground black pepper (1/2 teaspoon)

  • Cayenne pepper (1 teaspoon)

  • Barbeque sauce (1/2 cup)

  • Canned whole tomatoes (1 can)

  • Red bell pepper (1 whole, chopped)

  • Orange bell pepper (1 whole, chopped)

  • Red kidney beans (1 can)

  • Garbanzo beans (1 can)

  • White northern beans (1 can)

  • Green onions (1 bunch, sliced)

  • Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream for garnish


  1. Add bacon to a large pot or Dutch Oven. Cook through until brown and crispy and remove from pot to a paper towel to drain.

  2. Add onion and butter to the bacon grease in the same pot. Sprinkle white sugar on top and saute, stirring frequently with wooden spoon. The combination of fats make this a very rich chili base.

  3. Once onions become translucent, add balsalmic vinegar for deep color and flavor. Continue caramelizing onions for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking and to avoid burning. If onions begin to burn or stick to bottom of pan, add a few teaspoons of water to deglaze.

  4. Once onions are caramelized, add ground beef and turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to flavor. Cook until meat is thoroughly brown (no pink parts).

  5. Add barbeque sauce, tomatoes (whole can including liquid), chopped bell pepper, and all beans. Beans should be drained prior to adding to the pot. Also return the bacon to the pot.

  6. Heat chili until simmering, then reduce heat and cook on low for 45 minutes. The chili will develop more liquid as beans and vegetables cook together. If you desire more of a soup-like consistency, add chicken or beef broth.

  7. Taste and add additional salt and hot sauce if desired.

  8. Serve in bowls with sliced green onions, cheese and sour cream.