Lamb Chili with Smoked Paprika, Green Olives and Cannellini Beans

  • Active Time 35m
  • Total Time 1h 50m
  • Rating ****

Serves 8

If chili con carne had its start across the border in Mexico (as it seems it did), it's an easy leap to concocting a Spanish-influenced chili featuring lamb (a meat beloved in Spain and Mexico, as well as the American southwest), olives and cannellini beans or creamy marrow beans. A smoky Spanish paprika, made from close relatives of the mild red chiles that are also the basis of prepared chili powder, adds a rich but subtle flavor that makes it worth seeking out. Acknowledge the dish's European touches by topping it with crumbled goat cheese and serving it with crusty bread and a robust Spanish red wine such as Rioja.


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups chopped onions (from about 2 large)
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 3 pounds lean ground lamb (see Note)
  • Salt
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons medium-hot chili powder blend, such as Gebhardt
  • 3 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika, or any medium-hot imported paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups canned beef broth
  • 1 can (28 ounces) Italian-style plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juices
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine

  • 3 red bell peppers, stemmed, cored, cut into 1/4 inch-wide strips

  • About 4 cups cooked cannellini beans or
  • marrow beans, from about 1 1/2 cups dried
  • 2/3 cup sliced pitted green olives


Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large enameled cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté 5 minutes. Add lamb and 1 teaspoon salt. Increase heat to high. Sauté until meat is uniformly gray and free of lumps, about 10 minutes. Add chili powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes with their juices and wine. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover partially and simmer until chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper strips and sauté until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.

Stir beans and pepper strips into chili. Cook until very thick, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Stir in olives. Season chili to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

DO-AHEAD TIP: If possible, for best flavor, make the chili one day ahead. Reserve the olives. Cool, cover and refrigerate the chili. Rewarm over low heat, stirring often. Thin if necessary with a small amount of water only after the chili is fully heated. Stir in the olives and adjust the seasoning. Serve piping hot.

NOTE: The best meat for this dish will be coarsely ground, called "chili grind" in the southwest. Order lean, well-trimmed lamb from a good butcher, and ask that it go through the grinder only twice, rather than the three times that is typical. During chili's lengthy simmer, regular ground meat becomes unpleasantly mealy, while the chili grind meat survives with more of its nubbly texture intact.

Recipe created exclusively for by Michael McLaughlin.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved.

RecID 6363

nutrition information per serving

633 calories; 27g total fat; 62mg cholesterol; 782mg sodium; 47g carbohydrates; 12g fiber; 48g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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