Recipe Sleuth: Mike Isabella’s Lamb Chili

Recreate the warming winter dish from G.

Mike Isabella’s lamb chili, served at G, is an addictive winter comfort dish, spiced up with harissa and Sriracha chickpeas.

If there’s one upside to this never-ending winter, it’s digging into warming comfort dishes such as Mike Isabella’s lamb chili. We’ve been addicted since Isabella concocted the recipe for G at the beginning of the season. The restaurant version draws from the whole-animal approach at the adjoining Kapnos, incorporating lamb offal. This home-cook-friendly version simply uses ground lamb but is no less unusual, with the addition of wild rice, chickpeas, and a spicy yogurt-harissa garnish.

G by Mike Isabella’s Lamb Chili

Serves 4 to 6

Prep time: 30 to 40 minutes

Cook time: 50 to 60 minutes

For the chili:

4 slices thick-cut bacon, ¼-inch dice
1 cup Anaheim or poblano peppers, small dice, seeds and stems removed
1 cup celery, small dice
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound ground lamb
½ cup beer, preferably DC Brau pale ale
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon cracked white pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground aleppo pepper, or if you can’t find it, an extra ½ teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon ground mace or allspice
¾ cup wild rice (uncooked)
¾ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed under hot running water

To garnish:

1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons harissa paste (available at Whole Foods)
2 tablespoons crushed Sriracha chickpeas (found in Asian markets)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 chunk of Kefalograviera or pecorino Romano cheese


In a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat, sauté bacon. After about 4 minutes, when it’s halfway cooked, add peppers, celery, onion, and garlic. Stir to coat with bacon fat. Sauté for an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until bacon is fully cooked and onions are translucent.

Add ground lamb to pot and stir to combine. Once meat is browned, add the beer. Scrape to deglaze the bottom of pot to release any brown bits. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, and all the spices. Stir to combine.

Bring the chili to a slight boil, cover with a lid, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

While the chili is simmering, cook rice according to package directions. Also combine yogurt and harissa paste; cover and refrigerate until later use.

Once chili is finished simmering, add cooked rice and chickpeas. Stir to combine, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, until thick.

Serve in individual bowls and garnish with crushed Sriracha chickpeas, scallions, freshly grated Kefalograviera cheese, and harrissa yogurt.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.