Pizza Chilli Is an Agent of Chaos

Pizza Chilli Is an Agent of Chaos
Can you see the pepperoni? (Photo: Claire Lower)

As some of you may recall, I started this chilli journey to find a chilli recipe — or at least a style — that spoke to me. I didn’t grow up with a strong chilli identity, so sampling the recipes of those who did seemed like the best way to form opinions about the highly regional dish. I’ve eaten a Texan style all-meat chilli, chilli with beans (and fish sauce), and chilli with gorgeous hunks of brisket, but nothing prepared me for Pizza Chilli.

At first blush, one might think this recipe a troll — a sort of culinary shit post designed to anger Italians and Texans, and provide rage boner material for people who get off on yelling about pineapple. But this chilli was created as part of a Boy Scout chilli cook-off, which means it came from the minds of babes, and is therefore pure and devoid of malice.

That does not, however, mean it is not full of chaos. To start, we have a combination of beef and Italian sausage, which isn’t that wild, but we also have beans (a known Texan trigger), and one of those beans is butter beans, aka lima beans. I love lima beans deeply and profoundly, but even I would never have thought to put them in chilli, which makes it a move I respect deeply. (I suspect the “butter” in the name is meant to indicate a buttery “crust” for our “pizza,” but maybe I’m reading too much into it.)

This recipe also calls for whole pepperoni slices, which felt awkward, but the prolonged simmering causes them to soften, curl, and fold into a size and shape that fit onto the spoon.

Finally, there was pineapple, which — if I’m being honest with myself and with all of you — is the entire reason I chose this recipe. I love pineapple on pizza, and I love getting yelled at, but mostly I was curious to see how it would taste. We’ll get to that in a moment, but I’m going to go ahead and drop the recipe (see you on the other side).

I realize chili fans, pizza fans, and those who see pineapple on pizza as a cardinal sin will all cry foul, but this is a chili recipe we came up with for a Boy Scout chili cook-off (don’t worry, no wine) that ended up being the unanimous winner. We followed the dutch oven method and didn’t have measuring cups/spoons available, so the measurements are best guesses: chili is an art, not a science!

Camp Decorah Pizza Chili:

“Sauce”:

460mL can Tomato Sauce

2.3L Pizza Sauce

½ cup dry Red Wine (optional, and extra credit if it’s Italian)

“Crust”:

460mL can Butter Beans

460mL can Kidney Beans

Fritos Corn Chips (optional)

“Toppings”:

200g Ground Beef

900g Sausage

2 cloves Garlic, diced

25 slices Pepperoni (half of a 3.5oz package)

1 cup Pineapple Tidbits (for sweetness)

1 Onion (red or white) diced

½ Green Pepper, diced

460mL can Diced Tomatoes

1t Cumin

½ tbs Basil (or Italian Seasoning)

1 tbs Chili Powder (because it’s still Chili!)

Shredded Italian Cheese Blend

In a pan, pot, or dutch oven, brown and drain the ground beef, sausage, onion, green pepper, and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the Beans, Fritos, and Italian Cheese) and simmer for 20 minutes. Add beans and simmer 10 more. Serve topped with a sprinkling of the Italian Cheese blend, and feel free to throw on the optional Fritos for some crunch or kick it up a notch with a few drops of Chipotle Tabasco. Yee-Haw and Mangiamo!

As usual, I did not change a lot about this recipe, except that I used a red pepper instead of green, because I already had a red pepper, and I like those better anyway. I also browned the meat in batches, left the grease from both in the pot, then cooked the onion and pepper in the meat grease until they were soft and slightly browned on the edges. After that, I added the garlic, cooked that until it was nice and fragrant, then added the spices and let them bloom before adding the tomato products, wine, and pineapple. I let all that simmer for 20 minutes, then added the beans and let it all simmer for 10 more. Then I let it rest overnight, because I do that with all my chilli (because it makes it taste better).

The next day (which is today), I heated up a bowl and added the cheese, a little hot sauce (garlic and cayenne Tabasco), and a few pickled jalapeño slices, because pickled jalapeño slices are freaking bomb on a pepperoni and pineapple pizza.

Folks, this chilli is fun, and the pineapple is what makes it. You don’t get any discernible pineapple pieces; in fact, if no one told you it was there, you probably wouldn’t even know. It adds fruity sweetness and acid — much like tomatoes, but with a vaguely tropical vibe.

As for the pepperoni, I wanted to like it more than I did. It lost some of its flavour during the cooking process, though that could be because all my closest grocery store had was some bullshit “uncured” organic brand of pepperoni, which was kind of mild to begin with.

My only other note is that I wish I had seasoned the beef with some salt, as bites that contained the sausage were far more flavorful than those that contained beef. I also might have added some oregano, just to make it more pizza-y (and perplexing).

Overall, it’s a fun chilli, a party chilli, a chilli made for game days. I may not make this exact recipe again — I rarely make the same recipe twice anyway — but I fully plan to use crushed pineapple as a secret ingredient in future chilli recipes. Not only does it taste good, it invites chaos, and inviting chaos is one of my favourite hobbies.

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