Chili party at the Lost Forty for P. Allen Smith in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Last week, I pulled out my favorite chili recipe and challenged my friend and local chef Scott McGehee to a chili cook-off at his Lost 40 brewery and restaurant in Little Rock. On voting day, we invited our friends to be taste testers and deciders.

The day was full of beer and friends and food. What more could you ask for?

My winter chili recipe has a Tex-Mex flair with fresh lime, cumin and poblano peppers. To play that up, try topping it with avocado, Monterey jack cheese, and fresh jalapeno. Chef McGehee’s fall chili pairs carrots and winter squash with chipotle for a sweet heat that builds as you eat it. Both are delightful!

You can find his Fall Chili recipe here, and then vote for yourself!

  • Serves: 12


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped fine
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 8 cups Lost 40 Pale Ale
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 8 cans cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • (Optional) shredded monterey jack cheese, tortilla chips, lime wedges, fresh cilantro and sliced avocado to serve


  1. Combine the chicken, onions, poblano peppers, garlic, cumin seeds, salt, coriander, and oregano in a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker. Stir a little to merge spices and chicken pieces. Pour the chicken stock and beer over top, covering the chicken and vegetables by an inch or so.
  2. Cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. About 30 minutes before the time alotted, remove lid and add beans and lime juice. With two forks, shred chicken in the slow cooker. Taste and add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt or other seasonings, if necessary. Then return lid and cook for the remaining time.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese, wedges of lime, chopped cilantro, and avocado.