People’s Choice Chili

In 2013 I entered my first ever chili competition, to support the Detroit Bulldog Rescue. I knew my chili was great, but I wanted to stand out in a sea of crock pots by bring toppings that would really wow the voters and the judges. 

Me: “What the heck kind of topping will be a stand out?” 

Enter my husband into the kitchen. “What about using the pie scraps piling up in the freezer and making pie crust tops, like you do for chicken pot pie?”

“What if I added cheddar cheese to the dough and see what happens?” 

Husband: “I like cheese.” 

The first baking of the pie crust “tops” shrunk so much on the baking sheet that I almost threw in the towel. I crumbled the pieces and left them on the baking sheet. As my husband wandered through the kitchen, he began picking at the pieces and before long he’d eaten nearly all of them.

*Light bulb going off*

Pie crust CRUMBLES! The rest, as they say, is history.


3 dried Ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into chunks

1 small can of chipotle in adobo sauce

1 whole fresh serrano chile, finely chopped

1 small can green chiles

1-2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 small can tomato paste

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander 

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon espresso

1 ounce chopped unsweetened chocolate

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 pounds bone-in beef short rib, (or combination of short ribs and oxtail) silverskin removed and trimmed – seasoned with salt/pepper 

1 large red onion, finely diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 small tin of anchovies, finely diced

2 bay leaves

1/2 bottle dark beer

2 (14 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes

2 (14 ounce) can red kidney beans

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 bag Sweetbird Kitchen Cheddar Pie Crust Crumbles™


In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine dried chiles and enough chicken stock to cover chiles. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, cover, and set aside until chiles soften, about ten minutes. 

Transfer chiles and liquid to blender or bowl of a food processor, and add tomato paste, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, coriander, oregano, coffee, and chocolate. Blitz until smooth.

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, heat vegetable oil over high heat. Working in batches, add about half of the short ribs, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate to cool, and repeat with remaining short ribs.

Reduce heat to medium, and add onions, bell pepper, serrano chile, green chiles (including liquid), and bay leaves to Dutch oven with any remaining beef drippings. Cook until onions begin to turn translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook about a minute more.

Trim beef from bones, and roughly chop. Add chopped beef and bones to Dutch oven.

Add chile puree and beer, and stir. Bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, about one hour.

Add chopped tomatoes, vinegar and beans. Cook uncovered until beef and beans are tender and sauce thickens, 3-4 hours longer.

Using tongs, remove and discard bay leaves and bones. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. 

Serve topped with Sweetbird Kitchen Cheddar Pie Crust Crumbles™, sour cream and grated sharp cheddar cheese.

You’re welcome.

*TIP: You can use a pressure cooker (instead of a Dutch Oven) to cook your short ribs and reduce the time of the recipe by several hours.

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