The World's Greatest Chili

The measure of manhood! There are signature dishes in the realm of masculine culinary arts, among them barbeque, grilled steak with secret marinades, and foremost among these: chili. No male with any self-respect will sit quietly by while another trumpets his chili recipe as the "world's greatest". Them's fightin' words in most localities. Tastes differ and disputes usually resolve themselves with each party assuring himself that the other is wildly deluded. You may not favor my recipe, but I've never met anyone who didn't love it (although I have one compadre who is indifferently fond of all vegetables other than the potato and he wants the tomatoes and onions to be cooked down to a paste).


  • 1 lb Ground Beef or (preferably) Venison
  • 15 oz Can of Del Monte Diced Tomatoes (Chili Recipe)
  • 10 oz Can of Ro-Tel "Mexican Fiesta" Diced Chilies and Tomatoes with cilantro and lime juice
  • Roasted Red Peppers (e.g., Mancini)
  • 1 Poblano Pepper
  • Roasted Red Jalapeno Peppers (if you dare!)
  • Large Sweet Yellow Onion
  • 2-15 oz Cans of Bush's Best Chili Makin's: Texas Style with chipotle and Traditional Style, or, 1-30 oz Can of Bush's Best Hot Chili Beans
  • Mesquite Smoke Flavoring
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Tabasco Sauce (no, not Texas Pete or any of that other rubbish!)
  • Ground Red Pepper
  • The Method:

    Fry the diced onion in a skillet with a liberal splash of the mesquite smoke flavoring. You can toss in the roasted peppers at this point as well to dry them out and singe them a bit more. When the onion is done to your liking (I like them golden and translucent) add the ground beef or venison. If you intend to decant the liquid released from the frying beef, for the love of all that's good please set aside the fried onions and fry the meat alone. Don't waste all that flavor.

    In an 8-qt. pot combine the fried onions and meat with the peppers, tomatoes and beans. The roasted red peppers are not hot, just flavorful, being fully ripened bell peppers. If you feel rowdy and want the true deguello chili (no quarter given) add a few red jalapenos, but be careful because these babies are more potent than their green (unripened) ilk. I use the whole jar and often a few extra fresh peppers like a poblano, a habanero and a few serranos for a little extra flavor.

    Now comes the fun part. I usually add a couple of heaping tablespoon equivalents of chili powder to get things going. But that stuff is too funky to just use by itself. Wrong proportions. Add some cumin to give a warm, earthy aroma. I add liberal amounts of Tabasco and if I am going to simmer for a long while a bit of ground red pepper. Always use Tabasco. Its the difference between a fully aged reserve bottle of fine cabernet and a jug of MD20/20. A little fresh chopped garlic (in moderation) won't hurt either as a variation.

    Use of a secret ingredient requires extreme caution. This is an area where you really can destroy a great recipe. A pinch (and I mean the dust between thumb and forefinger) of cinnamon is sufficient to add a surprising and undefinable spiciness to the chili, so faint it can barely be sensed but offering a unique note.

    Let simmer for 30 minutes or so on low heat. By the way, everyone knows that chili is always better the next day.

    Serve with baked cheese sandwiches or (my favorite) peanut butter and jelly. This also begs for some real beer, like Negro Modelo or Dos Equis. Season with Tabasco to taste. If its too hot for your taste the surest antidote for any hot pepper is milk (or ice cream). A little flush to the skin and perspiration on the brow, a sniffle in the nose and I know that I'm happy!

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