The Great Chili Cook Off

Red Kidney & Pinto Beans
We organize a pot luck at work every couple of months. It starts with breakfast and ends with lunch. With 15-20 participants, there is a lot of grub. The lazy people pick up bagels, muffins, or coffee. The others actually prepare food. The first time out a made a huge garden salad. Huge. Another time I brought chocolate danish. Yeah, I was lazy. But it tasted great and was a huge hit. With a few days until the next pot luck I had to make a decision. What should I make for the pot luck?  I was planning on making chili this weekend so the timing was perfect. I will make a  batch of chili. I will bring in enough to feed 20 people. All would feast. All would love Shawn. If only I knew how to make chili.

Vegetables and Meat Ingredients
I like eating chili. The best chilis have plenty of ground beef and just enough spice to feel it but not so much that it hurts. I just do not know how to make Chili. I also have never used dried bagged beans before. Who would have thought that one little bag of beans would absorb so much water that it would grow to 20 times its original size? That was the first lesson I learned. The second lesson was to find out that after soaking the beans, you should bowl them for 90 minutes to soften them. And then I went to look for a recipe for the best chili ever.

Instead I found this recipe. Basic, and something I could work with.
The recipe called for:

1 and a ½ pounds ground beef
½ pound pork sausages
1 cup chopped onions
2  15 and a ½-ounce cans red kidney beans
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes, cut up
1 cut chopped green pepper
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder

Alexander Keith's IPA
I know how to cook, and I like to experiment. Perhaps with more beans than brains I made several substitutions.

I replaced the pork sausages with spicy Toulouse sausages.
I doubled the kidney beans and added a share of pinto beans
Rather than chili powder I used chili pepper
I added a tablespoon of Tobasco sauce
I don't like cooking with tomato paste, so I added in fresh tomatoes. And a second can of the same.
I also added a whole red pepper.
And beer. Mostly for drinking but I am going to pour some in just because its beer. I think red wine would go better. But I am out of red wine.

Oven Roasted Chili
The instructions were to place the beef, sausage and onions in a Dutch oven. So I grabbed the ingredients and put them in my bed. Get it? No? Look it up kids. Seriously though, I know that a Dutch oven is a pot. I also know that I do not own one. I looked it up on the googlenet and discovered that, they look to be a cast iron pot. I decided to use what I had. I took a closed pot for stove top cooking and a roasting pan for the oven. I had enough ingredients for both and wanted to see which would work better to cook the chili.

Stove Top Chili
Place the beef, sausage and onions in your pot and cook it until the meat browns. Then add in the rest of the ingredients. Keep it on simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

My recommendations? I was surprised that the oven cooking made a tastier chili. Stick with the stove top cooking if you want to go for a more traditional recipe or if you prefer a faster preparation. The oven cooking requires an extra 45 minutes at 300 degrees. Overall it makes for a good chili recipe and a relatively healthy meal to boot. The pinto beans adds the extra touch. And as far as I am concerned chili just isn't chili without hot sauce. Chili is a great idea for lunch or supper.


  1. "as far as I am concerned chili just isn't chili without hotsauce."

    Same here, my friend. And Kudos to you for successfully cooking chili!

  2. The stove top chili picture scares me...

  3. Hotsauce and beer goes with everything!

  4. Dance, why? Oh. You're saying I should have cut up the sausage before taking the picture?