© 2024 WHRO Public Media
5200 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk VA 23508
757.889.9400 | info@whro.org
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Java Rub Chili

Photo: Amber McCluney

Oh, chili, how I love thee. This version is sort of a melting-pot of recipes that my husband, Blake, and I have reimagined over the years. All the trial and error led us to two certain faiths: bacon and coffee. These two ingredients are paramount to the success of this dish, believe me. We've tried cooking it without them and time and time again the dish fell short.  

From our kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Chili Ingredients

  • 4-6 pieces of thick cut bacon, chopped into lardons
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lbs course ground beef (85/15 or 80/20)
  • ¾ cup java rub (see below for java rub recipe)
  • 2 dried chipotles
  • 6 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 2 16-oz cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • shredded cheddar cheese for serving
  • sliced jalapenos for serving
  • salt (optional)

A Little About the Java Rub 

The java rub stems from a conglomeration of recipes from my father-in-law and our dear friend's late father. You can use this rub not only for chili but for ribs, chicken, and whatever else fits your fancy. If you decide to use the rub for anything other than this chili recipe, be aware you’ll need to add salt. We have removed it here since some of the other ingredients may contain sodium. If you find that your chili is not salty enough, you may always add more to taste at the end. Be sure not to add it during cooking time as the broth will reduce significantly. 

Java Rub Ingredients

  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground coffee
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin

Java Rub Directions

Mix all the ingredients together with a fork or whisk until blended. Set it aside until you’re ready to add it to the chili.

Chili Directions

1. Preheat a 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot on the stove top to medium heat. After a few minutes, add one bacon lardon. If it sizzled, take a whiff and add the rest. If not, wait a minute longer and try again.

2. Cook the bacon lardons over medium heat until crispy. (Because the pieces are so small, this should only take a few minutes). Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside, leaving just enough bacon grease to cover the bottom of the cooking vessel.

3. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat until translucent. This may take a few minutes. If your onions start to become brown on the edges, turn the heat down. (They need to go low and slow so be patient during this step).

4. Once the onions appear translucent, stir in the garlic. Cook until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).

5. Add the ground beef and turn the heat up to high. (This will help to brown the meat as opposed to boil it). Use the spatula to separate the meat evenly across the bottom of the pot to ensure that it is evenly cooked.

6. As the meat browns, add the java rub. Stir the mixture so that the meat is evenly coated and you begin to smell the spices toasting. Then, add the bacon, dried chipotles, and the beef broth leaving the heat on high to bring the pot back to boil.

7. Once the pot returns to boil, turn the heat down to low so that it just slightly simmers. Stir it every 15-20 minutes or so for the next hour and 45 minutes.

8. After the chili has simmered for the full hour and 45 minutes, place half of the kidney beans in a blender with 1-2 ladles worth of chili. Blend until creamy and add this to the chili mixture. Then, add the other half the beans (whole). Stir them in and cook for 15 minutes more. 

9. After the beans have cooked for the remaining 15 minutes, carefully taste the chili and salt to taste. 

10. Remove the smoked chipotles before serving. (We forgot to do this once and our friend suffered the consequences. Sorry, Matt!)

11. Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with shredded cheddar cheese and/or jalapeño slices and a side of cornbread, if you desire. In fact, my mom just so happens to make wonderful cornbread. Find her delicious cornbread recipe here.

Recipe courtesy of Blake and Amber McCluney.