In our house football season means chili. In honor of the San Francisco 49ers NFC championship game today, I’m posting one of my favorite recipes: Anchor Steam Chili, made with San Francisco’s own Anchor Steam beer and – today – served with red and gold corn muffins. I can’t take credit for this recipe, Lucy Maytag came up with it. Because it’s printed on a 10+ year-old photo copy in my recipe file, I can’t even name the source. Apologies to the cookbook author I am stealing from! If anyone recognizes it, please let me know. Here goes … and Go Niners!

Photo courtesy of The Sensitive Epicure blog

Anchor Steam Beer Chili

At one time during the gold rush days (Go Niners!), San Francisco had more than two dozen steam breweries. (The steam beer process was developed to get around The City’s lack, at that time, of cold storage necessary for lagering the pilsner-type beer preferred by Americans.) By 1965, San Francisco’s unique steam breweries had dwindled down to one, the Anchor Steam Brewing Company, and it was about to quit business when Fritz Maytag came to the rescue.

“Meet a Maytag Who Produces Suds That Will Not Clean Duds,” the Wall Street Journal  headlined its story about Maytag’s getting into the steam beer business, describing him as the “scion of Iowa washing-machine family.”

It is only natural that Maytag and his wife, Lucy, have experimented with using steam beer in cooking. Lucy Maytag says that “cooking with steam beer is like cooking with wine. Steam beer adds a little something to the end product, but doesn’t dominate it.” Here is the result of some Maytag research into making chili with steam beer.

1 lb. Morris Grassfed ground beef

½ onion

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

 3 Tbs. tomato paste

2 dried California chiles

1 or more dried pasilla chiles

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. oregano

1 Tbs. cumin

 Salt to taste

1 or 2 bottles Anchor Steam beer

1 15 oz. can kidney beans

In a 4 qt. saucepan sauté chuck together with onion and garlic until meat is just brown, stirring with a fork while it is cooking. Pour off excess grease (there shouldn’t be any of you’re using grassfed beef). Add other ingredients except the beans, putting in only one bottle of Anchor Steam. Mix well. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans with their juice and, if  you like a soupy-type chili, a second bottle of Anchor Steam. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes.  Serve in heated bowls and top with a mound of grated cheddar cheese, dollop of sour cream and sliced fresh avocados. I also serve corn muffins and a fresh green salad with this. Enjoy!

Cook’s Notes: Use Porter House for a darker, slightly richer flavor. In California, the dried chile poblano is widely called a chile pasilla. They are dark, can be almost black, are roughly triangular in shape, and have a richer and often more pungent flavor than California or ancho chiles.


There’s no shortage of authentic, local flavor at Mama’s Fish House, located in Kuau Cove on Maui’s north shore. We recently returned to this magical place for 10 days, celebrating the holidays and our 20th wedding anniversary. Admittedly crowded, Maui is not my favorite island, but it was the perfect getaway with two teenagers and to remember our honeymoon there in 1991. Live music, lots of buzz and Mama’s make it more of a party than some of Hawaii’s more secluded places. My daughter Sarah decided the place was cool only after we spotted Zack Braff, Donald Adeosun Faison, and their girlfriends waiting for the table ahead of us.

You know you’re in a place that appreciates fresh and local food when the menu is printed daily and reads: “Wild Fish Caught by our Fishermen.”  With descriptions like “Opah caught in local waters by Sergio Barra on the Queen Diamond II” and  “Opakapaka caught by Layne Nakagawa bottom fishing in sheltered waters near Lana’i”  my local foodie radar was screaming.

    The waiter started us off with small ramekins of creamy asparagus   soup, followed by warm bread and caesar salads. I ordered the Opah, “Upcountry style” with carmelized Maui onions, bok choy and jasmine rice. Delicious. Joe had the deep-water ahi, seared with peppercorns and served with Hamakua mushroom sauce, also amazing. Maybe it’s the venue – stunning views and the natural high of being on vacation but every time I’ve been here, I loved it. The first time was as a teenager with my parents and my memories are just as fond. If you’re ever on Maui, make it a priority.

Mama's overlooks a light-filled cove on Maui's north shore.

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