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My Award-Winning Chili Recipe

My award-winning chili

My award-winning chili

A Real Winner

I haven't won many competitions in my life, but at our recent church chili cook-off, this recipe took first prize! I have made this chili several times, and I've tweaked it to get the flavor and consistency that apparently was a winner with this very keen crowd. The recipe leans toward the spicy side, but you can tame it down by omitting the hot sauce as well as adding fewer peppers and milder salsa.

The best part about this recipe is that, in spite of the long list of ingredients, it is very easy to make!

The history of chili is mixed with about as many mysteries as there are ingredients in this recipe. Was it the invention of a Spanish nun or a Western cowboy? I will leave you to decide where it began. However, since this dish has such a fascinating history, it seems utterly irresponsible not to provide a few fun facts, notable quotes, and curious stories about the history and development of this delightful dish.

Fun Facts and Quotes About Chili

  • The full name for "chili" is "chili con carne," which is Spanish for "peppers with meat."
  • Contrary to much popular opinion, chili is not a traditional Mexican dish.
  • Will Rogers (1879–1935) called chili a "bowl of blessedness."
  • It is said that Jesse James, the infamous outlaw, refused to rob a bank in McKinney, Texas, because that was the location of his favorite chili parlour.
  • In the 1800s, certain Spanish priests were quite concerned about this "fiery" concoction and even preached against it. They called it "the devil's soup."
  • The state I was born in, Illinois, was officially declared (by their own legislature of course) to be the official "chilli capital of the civilized world" in 1993. And yes, they spelled it "chilli" (with 2 Ls). Maybe because it would then match the first four letters of the state name?
  • Benjamin Franklin is apparently the author of this little rhyme about chili:

"In rain or snow,

To chili go.

You'll find it so,

for ought we know.

Time will show."

Okay, enough of these fun facts and chili trivia. Well, all right, just one more! Did you know that there is actually a Chili Appreciation Society?

Now I'm done. Now onto the recipe that will knock your socks off!


The list is a bit long, but the results will be worth the investment:

  • 2 1/4 pounds ground beef, get a nice lean variety
  • 2 teaspoons oil (EVOO will do just fine)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dark beer (you pick, Guinness and Magic Hat are both nice)
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 2/3 cup hot salsa
  • 2 tablespoons Frank's hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
  • 4 green jalapeño peppers


Now for the really fun part: putting it all together. It's easy! Just follow these steps and you will have your own award-winning chili.

  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, then add your onions, garlic, and ground beef. Cook until brown. At this point, I like to drain the meat a little by pressing a large spoon into the mix and drawing out some of the fat. Toss this out.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, coffee, beer, and beef broth
  3. Add spices (cumin, cocoa, oregano, cayenne, coriander black pepper, salt) and brown sugar. Add in 2 cans of kidney beans and jalapeño peppers. Let this simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Add the final can of kidney beans. Add the chili sauce, salsa, and hot sauce. Allow this to simmer for about another 30 minutes.

Can you believe it is that easy? This delicious recipe will soon be a family favorite. Serve it hot into a bowl and enjoy! For some other great ideas on how to serve your chili, keep reading.

Chili Options

Here are some great ways to utilize this wonderful recipe while thinking outside the bowl:

  • Chili Dog: This is the proverbial crowd-pleaser; who doesn't like a chili dog? Put the hot dog in a bun, spoon on the chili, and then add some freshly shredded cheddar cheese and maybe some diced onions. Wow! But no chili dog can be successful without a good chili recipe.
  • Chili Burger: A chili burger is really hard to beat: mouth-watering meat mixed with that hot and spicy chili along with several slices of American cheese . . . ahhhh! Top it off with onions, pickles, and any of your favorite fixings. If you are doing the burgers on the grill, toasting the inside of the bun adds just a little crispy texture and crunch. And hey, why not throw some bacon on top, right?
  • Chili Fries: Welcome to my weakness! Buy a bag of frozen French fries. I like the big, thick "beef steak" fries myself. The crispy kind with the crinkles is good, too. Cook them in the oven according to the directions. Melt some Velveeta in the microwave. Now, put your fries on a nice big plate. Pile on your chili, and then cover with melted cheese. Surprise your family with a chili cheese fries appetizer the next time you make supper!
  • Cincinnati Chili: Chili on spaghetti? Leave it to the good folks in Cincinnati to come up with this classic. Apparently, this very popular local favorite can be ordered as just spaghetti and chili (a two-way) or with cheese (a three-way) or add chopped onion (a four-way), and then even with beans (a five-way!). But whatever way you want it, you won't be disappointed.