* special equipment needed – slow cooker


1 1/2 – 2 lb. beef brisket, all fat removed orBeef brisket chili
trimmed away

1 medium onion, sliced

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 beer, preferrably a dark brew

(1) 14. oz can tomato sauce

1 tbsp. dark brown sugar

2 tbsp. Worchestshire sauce

1 tsp. mustard powder

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. ground cumin

Dash cinnamon

Dash cayenne pepper (if you really want heat plus the hip
factor, add some smashed canned chipotle
peppers from a small can)

Coarse grain salt to

Black pepper to taste

3 cans of beans – white, kidney, chili, black, or pinto – drained

Optional: 1 jar of artichoke hearts in
oil, drained

My husband won’t let me add but I
love to: corn, especially when I use black

What completes this: cooked elbow
macaroni or cavatappi pasta, biscuits, a huge baked potato, or French bread


Brown brisket in olive oil on both sides over
medium-high heat. When browned, put brisket into
slow cooker.

Into the pan the brisket was
browned in, add onions, sautee until softened.
Add beer, tomato sauce, brown sugar,
Worchestshire sauce, mustard powder, bay leaf,
cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil.

Carefully pour over brisket in slow cooker and put on low setting for approximately
six hours. If liquid level gets low, add some beef broth or chicken broth to slow cooker during cooking.
When done, add drained beans and artichoke hearts.

Garnish with grated cheese of your liking, or crumbled goat cheese, sour cream (in which case the goat cheese is superfluous),diced red or green onions, chives, parsley.

I dig this over a potato or with the cavatappi pasta.


Okay, so, the chili.

All 5 people in my house freaked for it. This makes plenty of leftovers. The brisket pulled
apart so easily, the flavor of the chili was sweet, the beans kept their shape and added a
creamy factor, I paired it with whole wheat rotini, and the toppings made it personalize-able for everyone.

Here is a breakdown of how we take our chili:

Child #1: Alex: sour cream and many Tabasco

Child #2: as much sour cream as she can get away with

Child #3: with grated cheese

Hubby: yellow mustard, half a bottle of Tabasco

Me: 1/2 cup at a time, still doing this portion
control thing, and yellow mustard, plus few Tabasco

Here is what I will do differently next time, but please, please try this chili, people. Let
it slow cook and fill the house with meaty, tomato-y aromas during a football game on
Sunday. It is honestly healthy and pleases everyone.

The night before (I forgot to mention that I did this): marinate brisket in tomato paste, 1/2
cup Worchestshire, brown sugar in a Ziploc bag. Work in the marinade well.

Change out the artichoke hearts for diced potatoes, if you want. Or neither.I didn’t use an onion after all!

Instead of beer, beef broth or stock can be (and was) substituted. Seems I drank all my IPA.

I am specifically stating chili beans and white beans.

Toppings bar…sour cream…pita
chips…chopped red onions…chopped green
onions…grated all kinds of
cheese…corn…chopped tomatoes…chopped
herbs…corn tortillas…tortilla
chips…mustard…french fries…pasta…crusty
bread…jicama…avocado…fried eggs…baked
potatoes…roasted garlic…crumbled goat
cheese…french fried onions…chopped bell
peppers…mini burgers/sliders…sausages…hot
dogs…buns…bacon…diced jalapenos…Tabasco

…just to give you and idea of how you can run away with something, make people happy, and be terribly satisfied, even if your team doesn’t win. I have never really been into chili. When I worked at Sea World, we had Chili Cook-Offs and the San Diego Padres would send players to be judges. That was interesting, but I never tried the chili. It’s when I bought this brisket a couple of weeks ago that I was hoping to make 3 meals out of it, stretch my dollar, that brisket chili crept into my mind. One package of meat, a few cans of beans and tomato sauce, a package of pasta and if you do your shopping right, chili is a great budget meal.

Or you can play it up for a party, and watch a great budget meal become an annual event your friends hope they get invited to.


Come Tuesday night I won’t be home making dinner, helping with homework, preparing for the
next day like usual because I am actually doing something I never do – going out to Taco Tuesdays with some friends.

I never do this because somewhere in suburbia, sometime during my experience in this idyllic community, I became a person who likes to play hide and seek, but not get found. Years of being friends with women – and all the stuff that comes with having women as friends – has sent me into a Gollum-like seclusion, coveting
self-preservation like Smeagol coveted his Precious ring.

It’s not that people have been unkind to me or my family. My neighbors and friends are forthcoming; there is a good deal of involvement in community sports and schools. We live among other people with interests and histories similar to ours, and have made friends with many of them.

But. Within these community organizations, at school functions, I can not help but notice little things that become bigger things in my overly-analytical mind. Without trying, I pick up nuances and dynamics, which to me are more telling than gossip or here say.

Getting-to-know-you systemizations that I willingly participated in, I now believe, take one additional sentence or question to become socially disastrous for some of us. And silly me, I got attached to certain families, who less than one year ago sat at my dinner table, our kids jointly destroying my home, but now are separated and living apart, jointly sharing custody of their kids.

Things aren’t always what they appear to be and that scares me…in a primal, selfish, but mostly maternal way.

Going to Taco Tuesday with friends, though, it’s tempting for the pack animal buried within me. I usually repress my pack animal instincts for the greater good of our collective family character. But one evening out with a group of female friends doesn’t mean I have to morph into a character from [fill in television  melodrama]. I know how to be me by now. I don’t have to give any juicy details of my relatively normal life away. I have become a master segue-er, clever conversationalist, and polite answer decliner. Fortunately, the people I attract of late seem to be content to keep their minor pseudo-scandals and we-all-have-them-secrets behind their picket fences, just like me. (I don’t have a picket fence though, to be accurate, just a wisteria that thinks it’s a wooden structure).

At Taco Tuesday with my friends I can balance the knowledge of what I’ve learned and what I have yet to learn. I can admit freely that I once naively believed everything signed on a dotted line was forever. Marriages, mortgages, the safety net of good intentions.

I’m careful of the promises I make – and keep -because while the diamond may be the hardest substance on Earth, it represents things that crumble all too easily.

So, while the cynic in me says I should shy away from all social invitations, I’m thinking instead of
a shredded beef taco with pico de gallo and a margarita on the rocks, not blended, while my family at home eats the hearty, reliable chili I made for them in the slow cooker before I ventured out into the fire.

After all, this is suburbia. What could go wrong?

I understand now why some meals stay, and others go. As a Mom, trying to save as much money and time as possible, certain meals and mainstays of Americana make sense to me: Meatloaf. Roasted chicken. Tomato sauce. Casseroles. It’s comforting when your family smiles as their bellies fill, but it’s also nice to leave the market as the victor against high prices, corporate chains and the squeeze of hard times.

We’re all hurting on one way or another, so our wits become refined.

Let me get you some chili (how do you take it?) while I give you a rough breakdown of how to beat the high cost of cooking…

Brisket*: $6 on sale

2 cans of beans: .99 each, $1.98 total

1 package of rotini: $1.00

1 can tomato paste: .63

Canned tomatoes: $2

Sour cream: $2.50

…everything else, the sugar, spices, Worchestshire, toppings, I had in my pantry

It comes to under $15. Divided by 5 people, that is about $3 a person for dinner, not including

How good does that taste going down?

* Note: I bought a 5 pound brisket for $17 and change, using approximately 1/3 of it for the brisket chili.

Smantha Gianulis

Samantha recently released my her family food memoir, Little Grapes on the Vine…Mommy's Musings on Food & Family .

Samantha is a self-taught chef. She worked in the Catering and Special Events industry for seven years before becoming a stay at home, now a work at home, Mom.
She appeared on NBC's ivillage Live.

Smantha Gianulis

Latest posts by Smantha Gianulis (see all) GianulisApron Strings Cooking ColumnHome CookingCooking and Recipes,HealthBEEF BRISKET CHILI (with beans)* special equipment needed - slow cookerIngredients:1 1/2 - 2 lb. beef brisket, all fat removed ortrimmed away1 medium onion, sliced2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1 beer, preferrably a dark brew(1) 14. oz can tomato sauce1 tbsp. dark brown sugar2 tbsp. Worchestshire sauce1 tsp. mustard...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids