Culinary SOS: Steak chili and skillet corn bread from Smitty’s in Pasadena

Smitty's Grill in Pasadena shares its recipe for chili and corn bread. Recipe

Smitty’s Grill in Pasadena shares its recipe for chili and corn bread. Recipe

(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times

Dear SOS: I enjoy reading your column, and it occurred to me that you might be able to answer my request. “It was a dark and stormy night,” like many we’ve recently had, when friends and I happened into Smitty’s in Pasadena after the theater. Not being Pasadena locals, we didn’t realize our good fortune. It was a perfect night for their signature chili and corn bread specials. Not your ground beef variety, the chili seemed to be prepared with flank steak and the corn bread was the best ever. Any chance you could wheedle their secret for your readers?

Bonnie Cohn

Hermosa Beach

Dear Bonnie: Smitty’s was happy to share its recipe for their rich and hearty chili and corn bread, which we’ve adapted below. Enjoy!


Total time: 2½ hours

Servings: 10 to 12

Note: Adapted from Smitty’s Grill in Pasadena.

Steak chili


2/3 cup corn oil

2 onions, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 shallots, minced


2 jalapeños, minced

2 tablespoons ancho chile powder

2 tablespoons New Mexico chile powder

1/4 cup dried oregano


3 tablespoons cumin

4 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 chipotle chiles (canned in adobo sauce), minced (about 1 tablespoon)


3 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes

3 cups beef broth

4 pounds flap meat, cut into large dice

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Stir in the onions, garlic, shallots and jalapeños and sauté until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the ancho and New Mexico chile powders, the oregano, cumin and salt, along with the tomato paste, chipotle chiles and tomatoes. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.


Stir in the beef, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, partially covered, until the meat is tender and the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 2 hours. Stir occasionally, checking to make sure the heat is gentle and the chili does not burn. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. This makes about 10 cups (2½ quarts) of chili. While the chili is cooking, make the corn bread.

Each of 12 servings of chili: 403 calories; 36 grams protein; 12 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 24 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 95 mg cholesterol; 5 grams sugar; 1,406 mg sodium.

Iron skillet corn bread

2 1/2 cups (10.6 ounces) flour, plus 2/3 cup flour, divided


1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup creamed corn

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese

4 eggs


1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornmeal, plus 2/3 cup cornmeal, divided

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided

1 teaspoon salt


1/2 cup fresh corn kernels

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2½ cups flour and the baking powder.


3. In a large bowl, stir together the creamed corn, ricotta cheese, eggs, vegetable oil, one-half cup plus 1 tablespoon cornmeal, one-half cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, the salt and corn kernels. Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time until incorporated.

4. Spoon the mixture into a 10½-inch seasoned cast iron skillet or similar-sized greased baking pan.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining two-thirds cup each flour, cornmeal and sugar. Stir in the melted butter until combined to form a crumbly mixture. Drizzle the crumble topping over the corn bread base.

6. Bake the corn bread until puffed and lightly browned on top and a cake tester or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 45 minutes.


Each of 12 servings of corn bread: 456 calories; 8 grams protein; 61 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 20 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 96 mg cholesterol; 22 grams sugar; 369 mg sodium.