This Maple Bacon Chili is topped with maple candied bacon for an extra special layer of flavor! It’s the perfect meal for a chilly (no-pun intended) Autumn evening!
Maple syrup…in chili? Trust me on this one! A couple of weeks ago, Laura and I packed up the car and made the short drive over to Stratton Mountain Resort in southern Vermont. As I’ve mentioned before, Robbie isn’t a great traveler, but he survived the 90-minute trip without much trouble. We moved to upstate New York almost 7 years ago now (wow, time flies!!), and we’ve heard a bunch of good things about Stratton Mountain from friends and neighbors. The Autumn leaves are at their height of color right now, and we decided a roadtrip into Vermont was in order. Plus, Stratton Mountain was hosting their annual Brewfest and Chili Cookoff over Columbus Day weekend. Tasty chilies, craft beer and Fall foliage? Count me in!
If you’re a big skier, then you might already be familiar with Stratton Mountain. This ski resort is nestled in the southern Green Mountains of Vermont, and the resort is home to 97 trails over 670 acres. (Fun fact: Stratton Mountain Resort was the first major ski resort to allow snowboarding!) While it’s beginning to get chilly here in the northeast, the snows haven’t moved in quite yet. But the base resort was open for business, and we had a blast exploring the area with Robbie.
Of course, Robbie’s favorite part of the entire trip was a simple water feature located along the main walking street through the resort. Seriously. Every time we passed the waterfall, Robbie demanded that we stop so he could play for a bit. If you happen to know a toddler, then you already know that some fights aren’t worth having. So while Robbie watched the waterfall, Laura and I sat on a bench nearby with a cup of coffee from the Stratton Mountain Market and Deli.
We arrived at Stratton mid-day on Friday, and we checked in at the Black Bear Lodge for our weekend stay. We were overdue for Robbie’s naptime, and the front desk staff was amazing! They even arranged for us to stay in one of the rooms right next to the lobby so that Robbie could take his nap in our room while Laura and I sat in the lobby with his monitor. In fact, Table 43.1, a comfortable bar and restaurant, was located next to the lobby, and Laura and I totally enjoyed a date night that night after Robbie went to bed. (His monitor reached into the restaurant, so we were able to keep an eye on the little guy the whole time.)
The next morning, we bundled up and took an early morning ride on the gondola to the top of the mountain. The gondola ride offers amazing views of not only the base resort at Stratton Mountain, but also the surrounding White Mountains, Adirondacks, Berkshires and Green Mountains. In fact, on a clear day, you can see 4 states from the top of the mountain! It happened to be a bit cloudy while we were there, so we couldn’t see all 4 states. However, we did get to ride up through the clouds on the gondola…literally. (The gondola disappeared into the clouds before arriving at the summit!) At first, Robbie was a bit nervous about the gondola (“no, no, dola”), but it quickly became his favorite part of the trip. Well, second favorite. There’s no competing with that water feature!
On Saturday afternoon, Laura and I shared samples of a number of different craft beers as well as 8 different chilies. The Maple Bacon Chili was voted as the winner, and I can totally see why. This chili had a touch of sweetness from the maple syrup combined with the saltiness from the bacon. Together, this made for one heck of a delicious chili! While I don’t have the winning recipe from the Stratton Mountain Chili Cookoff, I did come home and recreate my own version of this chili. And I must say that this is one of my favorite chilies I’ve ever made! (Laura is already planning ahead for when we can make another batch of this Maple Bacon Chili to share with friends!)
I pulled out a couple of fun tricks for this Maple Bacon Chili. For starters, there’s a bit of maple syrup in there. But not too much. There’s just enough maple syrup to add a touch of sweetness to the chili without it tasting like breakfast. But the maple goodness doesn’t stop there! I topped this chili with maple candied bacon. If you’ve never had maple candied bacon, then stop reading right now and go make a batch. (I’m not kidding!) And my last trick for this Maple Bacon Chili was using a combination of ground beef and ground Italian sausage. Add in a couple cans of beans, and you’ve got the recipe for a delicious bowl of chili!
Speaking of maple syrup, we wandered into the Pop Shop located in the base resort at Stratton Mountain. The mission of the Pop Shop is to provide a place to feature various vendors and retailers from around the area. While we were there, the Pop Shop was featuring a maple syrup tasting from Runamok Maple. Runamok Maple makes a variety of barrel-aged, infused and smoked maple syrups, and we totally got a head start on Christmas shopping for our families there. (Mom, if you’re reading this, pretend you didn’t see it, ok?) Not only did we have a fun vacation, but we got some shopping done as well!
I must admit that the non-ski season might be Stratton Mountain Resort’s best kept secret! The shops were open, and we had an amazing weekend letting Robbie explore the main walking street through the resort. (Of course, the tasty chili and craft beer was a nice touch, too!) I know staying at a ski resort might not be your first thought during non-ski season, but that’s actually what makes this the best kept secret! While other lodging in Vermont is at peak in the summer and Fall, Stratton Mountain Resort is actually offering off-peak rates.
Stratton Mountain Resort offers everything from hotels to full mountain homes right there on site. In fact, an off-season stay at Stratton Mountain would be an excellent venue for a family reunion. (Perhaps I can convince my sister and her family to come up for a return visit to Stratton next Fall!) My sister’s husband works as a golf pro in Nashville, so I’m sure he would want to check out Stratton’s 27-hole championship golf course. (The course has hosted 6 LPGA tournaments.)
While you’re thinking ahead about next year’s vacation plans, I suggest making a pot of this delicious Maple Bacon Chili! It’s the perfect meal for a chilly (no-pun intended) Fall evening! Cheers, friends!
Disclosure: My wife and I received a complementary stay at Stratton Mountain Resort as part of this post. However, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Spiced!