“Canadian Pub” Blackbeard’s Chili Con Carne

Posted on: August 17th, 2010 by Carla Johnson 2 Comments

[Toronto’s population is] a mixed race, neither amalgamated in manners, customs nor habits. ~ Toronto Mayor William Lyon Mackenzie, 1828

For every wound, a balm. For every sorrow, cheer. For every storm, a calm. For every thirst, a beer.”  ~ Irish cheer

*Special Note* I shared a variation on this recipe at Kitchener’s Food & Drink Show 2012 – Cooking Stage.

Taking a job as a cook at an Irish pub in Toronto was a good fit for Mike Crooks. Mike is a Canadian with Irish heritage. His family roots come directly from Ireland. His grandfather, as a young man, had immigrated from Ireland to Montreal, Quebec where he raised Mike’s father. Then, in the 1970’s, Mike’s father moved to Oakville, Ontario and that’s where Mike grew up.

The pub, the James Joyce Irish Pub, is located in the heart of Toronto. It was named after James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, a profoundly influential 20th century Irish writer and poet who lived from 1882 to 1941. It is a popular place for university students to hang out.

The owners of the pub were new to the business, and even though Mike had never really cooked before, the owners gave him a lot of latitude. They simply asked him to create the menu for them and trusted him to do so. So, Mike took a look at some recipe books and started experimenting.

One of the first recipes that caught his eye was called “Blackbeard’s Chili.” Blackbeard was a fascinating pirate from England who ruled the Atlantic and chili has its origins in Mexico and the southern US. Mike created his own chili dish for the restaurant and used the recipe as his base.

Two of the owners of the James Joyce Irish Pub were from China. The third gentleman was from Pakistan and none of them spoke English very well. Mike was charmed by the fact that he was serving a Mexican dish, named after an English pirate in an Irish pub, in Canada that had multi-ethnic owners. It profoundly reflected the multi-cultural Canada we all know and love, so he dubbed the James Joyce Pub the “Canadian Pub.”

Mike was surprised recently to find out he may also be part Scottish. His brother came across a Crooks farm settlement in the north of Scotland that had been there for hundreds of years.


Blackbeard’s Chili Con Carne

You will need two pots. One large one for the bulk of the chili (Part I of the recipe) and a second smaller pot for boiling the beans and the beer (Part II of the recipe.)

Part I – The Base Chili Recipe

  • 900g (2 lb.) ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, torn up
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (removed from the stems)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large can red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes, do not drain
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste


1. In a large pot, heat the brown the ground beef, making sure to continuously break up large pieces with a spoon or spatula.  Once the beef is browned, drain off the fat.* Return the ground beef to the pot.

2. Add onions and red bell pepper to the ground beef and cook over medium heat, stirring until the onions are soft and translucent.

3. Add the garlic and stir it while it cooks, for 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn.

4. Add the oregano, basil, thyme, chili powder, cumin, cayenne powder, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Heat over medium heat and stir at regular intervals for 12 minutes.

5. Add the kidney beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir to mix well.  Reduce heat to low and simmer.

Note:  If you refrigerate the chili overnight before serving it, the fat will harden on top and be easy to remove. If you are serving the chili right away, go ahead and drain the fat off.


Part II – The Beer and the Beans

3 cans black beans, rinsed
1 large can dark stout beer
  1. Combine the beans and the beer in a medium size pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes on medium low. 
  2. After 30 minutes, remove 1/4 of the beans and set them aside. Cook the rest of the mixture down.
  3.   While the chili pot is simmering, add a little bit of each ingredient to your pot of beer and beans that are simmering to enhance the flavour. 
  4. When the bean and beer mix is thick, remove from heat and puree with a mixer or a food processor. 
  5. Take the beans you had set aside earlier and add them to your chili. Then take your puree and slowly mix it into your chili. It should add a great texture and amazing flavour to your standard chili recipe.
  6. Simmer the combined mixture for 2 hours.
  7. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top of each serving and compliment it with tortilla chips.


Drink recipe

Blackbeards Ghost

makes 1 mixed drink

1 ounce coconut rum
1 ounce dark rum
1 ounce light rum
1 ounce grapefruit juice
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce mango syrup
¼ ounce molasses

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a highball glass over ice and garnish with a cherry.

Carla’s note:

This summer, my neice Emma went with a work group from Canada into a community in the US that had been hit hard by the recession. Her team helped run the food kitchen and organized activities for the local children. One day, one of the young American kids looked at her and her group and said, “You Canadians all look alike!”

Did you know?

~ During the 1880s, brightly dressed Hispanic women known as “chili queens” began to operate in San Antonio. They would set up in the early evening, build a charcoal or wood fire and reheat large pots of ready-made chili. They sold it by the bowl on the streets. People were often drawn to the aroma. Sometimes mariachi street bands joined to serenade the eaters.

~ In 1977 Chili con carne became the official dish of the state of Texas.

~ Chili con carne literally means “hot peppers with meat” in Spanish.

Ten Healthy Reasons to Eat Chili:


Wine Pairing?

Chili Con Carne is on this list of impossible food to pair wine with. Several people chymed in with their comments. Some noted that beer is better with chili than wine. Here’s the link:


Tags: ,

2 Responses

  1. Vivian Perez says:

    How popular is the Blackbeard’s ghost cocktail? Do serve it at Halloween? I am writing an article for Chilled magazine. Thanks,Vivian Perez

  2. Hi Vivian, I’m not sure how popular it is, but it is definitely an interesting drink as the molasses settles on the bottom, hence the “beard.” It helps to like the taste of molasses and I sure do. Feel free to contact me anytime if you are looking for more ideas.

Leave a Reply