At work tomorrow we are having a chili cook-off. Since there were only a couple of folks signed up, I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. Rather than play the fool and throw a dozen cans of Wolf brand into a crock pot and laugh as people choose it as the best of the day, I pulled out an old recipe from 1991. It’s an adaptation of a recipe I got from a buddy named Keith C. He was (well, is I hope, but I haven’t talked to him for a while) quite a cook and enjoyed a spicy meal as much as me. In fact, we got some crazy props for taking 4 and 5 spoons of Chinese red pepper sauce at the Great Wall restaurant. Talk about some crazy times, Leon sure could Wok.

Anyway, I decided to write up the results of my evening adventures as a record of what actually went into the pot. I’ll even document the process in case somebody wants to try and make it themselves or improve upon it.

To make this chili recipe, you’ll need the following:

  • 1 lb ground sirloin

  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage

  • 1 large white onion

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

  • 1 15 oz can chunky diced tomatoes

  • 1 8 oz can tomato paste

  • 8 tbsp chili powder (Williams FTW)

  • 2 tbsp ground mustard

  • 1 tbsp ground cumin

  • 2 cups whine (I used a cheap Reisling)

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil (I used a brand my wife picked up in Italy, so airfare may apply here)

  • 2 15 oz cans pinto beans

  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans (can use two, but if you do add the second can about 15 minutes before serving to vary the texture)

  • Chinese Red Chili Powder to taste (Cayenne pepper, whatever you want, it’s the heat, you gotta bring it)

In a six-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the finely diced garlic and chopped onion (I dice my onions to about half an inch) and cook until the onions are transluscent. Once the onions are cookied, add the sausage and the ground sirloin. Once it starts to brown, add maybe half a cup of the whine to help the meat cook evenly (oh, do NOT chill the whine).

While the meat cooks, take out your 8-10 quart stock pot and dump all the tomato goods into it. Take a quart bowl and add a cup of whine, all the dry spices and wisk until a smooth sauce is prepared to ensure a nice even distribution of the powders into the chili. Once it is smooth and clump free, dump it into the bowl with the tomatoes and continue to heat it up. Open the cans of beans, drain them in the sink and add the beans to the tomatoes.

At this point, your meat is probably done. Dump the meat mixture into a strainer in the sink to lose the bad-for-you stuff and to avoid making the chili too wet. If you like it wet, feel free to skip the drainage and go straight into the mix. After the tomatoes and beans get up to temp, add the meat pan contents (drained of course) to the tomatoes, let them cook for at least 30-40 minutes and check the flavor. Be sure to stir often as the liquid will probably rise to the top causing the beans to get weird in the bottom of the pan. Gotta keep it wet and moving as the liquid will gradually cook off. If you need to add more flavor/spice, be sure to pre-mix the powders in a bowl with some more whine and pour the mixture into the pot to avoid getting dry clumps of chili powder in your bowl later on.

That’s basically my way of making chili. Mind you, it takes time compared to the quick and easy methods of buying chili style tomatoes but the extra time can be worth if you are sharing with friends.

For this event, I also created a habenero pepper sauce on the side. I didn’t want to run people off with the main pot, so I mixed up some sauce on the side. It’s a simplified scotch bonnet sauce recipe using habenero peppers that isn’t as hot as it could be, but has a really smooth flavor for dipping. Some might be tempted to add a spoonful or two to their chili tomorrow, if they do I hope it tastes good. I’m holding off until tomorrow, but I gave it a test spin on some tortilla chips and after about four chips I was feeling a solid burn (that’s about one teaspoon of the sauce I would imagine).

I’ll be sure to follow up with the results of the contest, but either way I’m having myself a nice bowl of chili for lunch tomorrow. Since we’re going from the 70’s to the 30’s tomorrow, the warm lunch will be a nice complement to the soon to be snowy and freezing weather transition.