Chili With Mushrooms and Clams


Jan 15

In the photo, you can see that my large pot was being used for something else so I had to split it all up into two smaller pots.

Don’t you ever get tired of the same old same old? I can’t stand the solid beans in chili; reminds me of army food. And hamburger just doesn’t cut it. In Mexico I had chili made with real chunks of beef. But I wanted to experiment with clams. And why not!

And because the range of tastes when it comes to chili recipes runs from slightly hot to you’ll-feel-it-in-the-morning hot, we give you options.


  • 2 Cups Black Bean Flakes (Some like pinto beans flakes)
  • 2 – 3 Cups Mixed Dried Mushrooms (shitake, maitake, ABM, etc)
  • 3 8 oz Bottles Clam Juice
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 4 6.5 oz Cans Chopped Clams
  • 5 Strips Uncooked Bacon (chopped up)
  • 1 Large Red Onion (diced – about 1 cup)
  • 1 Red Pepper Diced
  • 3 – 6 Cloves Garlic Crushed (depends on your taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon Swerve Brown Sugar Substitute (or just brown sugar if you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chili Powder (if you can’t find it, two tablespoons of chili powder and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and if you like it really hot, use Flatiron Pepper Co – Four Pepper Blend. Premium Red Chile Flakes. Habanero – Jalapeno – Arbol – Ghost Pepper)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Rounded teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder (or a tablespoon of shallot juice)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt (best to let your guests and family add more if they want)
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (to taste—we talk about cayenne pepper below)
  • 1 14.5 oz Can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 4 oz Cans Fire Roasted Hot Green Chilies (again depending on how hot you like it)
  • ¼ cup Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • Toppings! (tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese, up to you)

Cayenne Pepper Warning: Not all cayenne pepper is created equal. The hot in a pepper is measured in Scoville Heat Units. Let’s start with that bottle of Tabasco sauce (I know couples who measure the length of their marriage in the number of bottles of Tabasco sauce they’ve purchased).

Tabasco sauce is 3,700 SHU.

Cayenne Pepper has a range: 30,000, 50,000, 90,000 and I’ve seen higher numbers. So be careful. Always know your cayenne pepper, because a teaspoon of cayenne pepper at 30,000 SHU is not the same as a teaspoon of cayenne pepper at 90,000 SHU. And for my first version of this, on top of the hot things listed in this recipe, because we like HOT, I tossed in a couple shakes of Z Nothing Beyond Extremely Hot Sauce (4 million SHU) into it. Was fantastic.


Soak your dried mushrooms in the three bottles of clam juice. Note that we’ve allowed you to choose the amount of mushrooms to use.

In a large pot, put your bean flakes, water, brown sugar, all the spices except the garlic, the fire roasted diced tomatoes, the fire roasted hot green chilies, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce, and turn the heat on medium. You’ll want to gradually bring it almost to a boil, and then just simmer for a bit.

Note that the original recipe calls for onion powder, something my kitchen just doesn’t have. So I took a shallot, chopped it up and squeezed juice (and some mushed up shallot) into a small cup. About two tablespoons, and added that instead of the powder.

Chop/cut up the bacon into tiny pieces, and start frying them. Using a paper towel, soak up the bacon fat leaving a tablespoon or two in the pan.

Add onion and pepper and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook 30 seconds to a minute.

Scrape everything in the frying pan into the pot. Then add the mushrooms and the clam juice they’ve been soaking in.

Once the pot is ready to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally to allow all the ingredients, as my grandmother used to say, “to make a little love.”

When that’s done, add the chopped clams and the water they came in, and then serve plain or with toppings.

Clams are something you don’t want to cook long. They just get harder and harder.