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Ground Beef & Bacon Chili with Bacon Fat, Cheddar, Sage & Parsley Dumplings

Combining things doesn’t always work. But, sometimes, just sometimes they can come together in a magical way, like with this spicy chili topped with soft, pillowy dumplings using bacon fat as their binder. Do give it a try.

Chili topped with 7 large dumplings in a cast iron skillet over a chopping board that says "Go Everywhere, Eat Everything" and the Eat My Globe logo of Simon Majumdar's likeness holding a globe on a platter

Ground Beef & Bacon Chili with Bacon Fat, Cheddar, Sage & Parsley Dumplings Recipe

(Serves About 4-6)



For the Chili:

  • 2 lbs. Ground Beef ( I use an 80/20 mix)

  • 6 Rashers of Smoked Bacon (Cut into Lardons)

  • 1 Large White Onion (Diced)

  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar

  • 3 Cloves Garlic (Minced)

  • 1 Teaspoon Tomato Paste

  • 3 Carrots (Peeled and Diced - an unusual addition but it gives great texture)

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

  • 2 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder (More or Less to your desired spiciness)
  • 1 x 14-oz Can Chopped Tomatoes

  • 1 x 14-oz Can Black Beans (Drained and Rinsed, or you may use any other beans, or no beans at all)

  • 1 Cup Beef Bouillon

  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil


For the Dumplings:

  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

  • ¼ Cup Bacon Fat (From the bacon prepared for the chili)

  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter (Fridge Cold and Diced)

  • ¼ Cup Fresh Italian Parsley (Finely Chopped)

  • ¼ Cup Fresh Sage (Finely Chopped)

  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar

  • 1½ Cups Cold Water

  • 1 Egg (Beaten with a little water or milk)​


For the Chili:

  1. Cook the bacon lardons in a cast iron skillet until they become slightly crisp.

  2. Remove the bacon from the pan, and save both the bacon and the fat that it has rendered in different containers.

  3. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook it on a medium heat until all of the beef is browned.

  4. Remove the ground beef from the pan and place in a separate container.

  5. Add the vegetable oil and bring to a medium temperature.

  6. Add the onions.

  7. Season the onions with salt, pepper and sugar.

  8. Cook the onions for 4-5 minutes and then add the minced garlic and the tomato paste.

  9. Cook on a gentle heat for 3 minutes.

  10. Add the carrots and combine well.

  11. Cook for 5 minutes.

  12. Add the cumin and red chili powder.

  13. Combine well and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.

  14. Add the chopped tomatoes, and combine well.

  15. Cook the tomatoes for 3-5 minutes.

  16. Add the black beans (or whatever beans you choose).

  17. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

  18. Return the ground beef and the bacon to the pot.

  19. Combine well and add the beef bouillon.

  20. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes on a medium heat.

  21. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as required.

For the Dumplings:

  1. Sift the All-Purpose flour into a bowl.

  2. Add the salt, pepper and the baking powder.

  3. Add the bacon fat and the diced cold butter.

  4. With your fingertips, work all of the ingredients together until they begin to resemble a breadcrumb texture.

  5. Add the chopped parsley, sage and cheddar, and gently stir into the mixture.

  6. Add the water bit by bit, so you can judge how much of it you need. You may not need it all, depending on the absorbency of your flour.

  7. The resulting do should not be stiff, but a little bit more liquid than that.


To Construct the Dish:

  1. In an oven proof dish (I use the cast iron skillet in which I cooked the chili) place the chili and gently press down so it has a flat surface.

  2. Using a large tablespoon or baking spoon drop amounts of the dough on top of the chili. (Bear in mind that the dough will spread as they cook. I like to do mine quite large.)

  3. Place the dish into an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

  4. After the 10 minutes point, brush the top of the dumplings with the beaten egg mixture and return to the oven. Keep an eye that the dumplings don’t burn. They should have a beautiful golden color on top.

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