Quarter-Hour Chili

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Use ground meat instead of cubes and the cooking time of this flavor-packed chili is dramatically reduced. I’ve added diced sausage to enhance the texture and give the chili extra kick. Cocoa powder deepens the flavor. Serve the chili accompanied by rice, polenta, or corn bread—or spoon it into taco shells and serve with one or more of the optional garnishes.


The flavor of ground cumin doesn’t survive the high heat of pressure cooking. Use whole seeds for authentic taste and texture.

Serves5 to 6

Cooking Time4 min

Cooking Time - Text4

Cooking Methodpressure cooking



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

Equipmentpressure cooker

Mealdinner, lunch

Moodblue, stressed, tired

Taste and Texturehot & spicy, savory


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef, pork, turkey, or lamb (or a combination)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ pound chorizo or other spicy cured sausage, finely chopped (use a food processor)
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • One can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes or diced tomatoes with green chiles (with liquid)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, pushed through a press
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Sour cream and chopped cilantro
  • Grated cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce
  • Chopped red onion
  • Tortilla chips


  1. Heat the oil in a 4-quart or larger cooker. Stir in the cumin seeds and toast for 20 seconds. Add the ground meat in small batches, stirring vigorously after you add each batch. Use a long-handled fork or spoon to break up and crumble the meat. Continue cooking over high heat until the meat is brown.

  2. Stir in the onions and water. Take care to scrape up any browned bits sticking to bottom of cooker. Blend in 3 tablespoons of the chili powder and the cocoa. Add the chorizo and bell pepper. Pour the tomatoes on top. Do not stir after adding tomatoes.

  3. Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Quick-release the pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

  4. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste, plus the additional chili powder if needed. Simmer the chili uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are integrated, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve in bowls or lift mixture with a slotted spoon and set into taco shells. Accompany with the garnishes of your choice.

  5. Variations

  6. For a hotter chili, add a pinch of ground chipotle or cayenne pepper after cooking—or stir in chopped fresh jalapenos.

  7. Transformations (Follow basic recipe except as noted.)

  8. Chili with Beans: After pressure release, stir in 1½ cups firm-cooked pinto, kidney, or black beans, or 1 can (15 ounces) drained and rinsed.

  9. Cuban-Style Chili (Picadillo): Reduce chili powder to 2 tablespoons and add 1/3 cup raisins. After pressure release, stir in ½ cup coarsely chopped pimento-stuffed olives along with garlic. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Serve over rice.

  10. Curried Lamb or Beef with Potatoes (Keema Alu): Use ground lamb (sometimes sold as lamb patties) or beef. Omit chili powder, cocoa, chorizo, and green bell pepper. Add 2 pounds scrubbed or peeled Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes that have been cut into ¾-inch chunks and 10 ounces fresh or frozen cut green beans. After adding tomatoes, sprinkle 1½ tablespoons curry powder and 1 teaspoon salt on top. After cooking, eliminate garlic and oregano and stir in 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (optional), and more curry powder, if needed. If you wish, thicken stew by stirring in ½ to 1 cup yogurt. Serve over rice. Instead of optional garnishes, accompany with mango chutney or an Indian pickle, such as lime or eggplant. (I recommend Patak’s brand for both.)


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