The Recipe for My Winning Chili


A few of you have asked for the recipe for the chili that won my church's chili cook-off, and though I adhere to the purposes of this blog pretty closely, I'll indulge giving recipes—but just this once! 😉

  • 1¼ lbs Laura's Lean ground beef (support organic farmers!)
  • 1 Vidalia onion—large (chopped)
  • 1 Can hot chili beans
  • 1 Can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 Can pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 Can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 Cans tomato sauce
  • 5 Bay leaves (Use a higher quality leaf if available. There's plenty of variance in the quality of bay leaves, I've found.)
  • ½ Cup red wine (Preferably a Shiraz, Zinfandel, or Malbec with good tannins. Nothing sweet!)
  • ½ Cup zesty (not overly sweet) barbecue sauce (Being from Cincinnati, I prefer Montgomery Inn brand.)
  • ¼-½ Cup of McIlhenny's Chipotle sauce
  • 2-3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Ground cumin (to taste)
  • Chili pepper powder (to taste)
  • Garlic powder (to taste)
  • Onion salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)

Combine all canned products into a large pot. Add the bay leaves and stir them in. Set on medium-low heat.

Brown the meat and chopped onions together. Drain excess fat. Season with onion salt and pepper.

Add the first round of cumin to the base. I put in enough to cover the top of the base to the size of a small saucer.

Add the red wine, barbecue sauce, chipotle sauce and Worcestershire. If your barbecue sauce has a strong vinegar taste, hold back some on the Worcestershire sauce. Keep base simmering.

Add the meat and onions to the base.

Now comes the personal preference part. I like my chili spicy, so I add another round of cumin half the size of the first round. Chili pepper powder amount is to your taste, too. I want some sweat to roll down the back of my neck, though I kept it much milder for the chili that won the contest. You can add garlic powder, plus more salt and pepper if you wish.

Simmer till the base reduces. The chili should be thick and not have any runniness.

Remove bay leaves and serve. Makes about 8-10 bowls.

That's it!

For a variant, you can cut the beef down to ¾ pounds and add a ½ pound of hot pork sausage (like Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean brand ) mixed in with the beef. Adding diced and roasted red bell pepper brings some sweetness to the mix if you like a sweeter chili.

Bon appétit!

4 thoughts on “The Recipe for My Winning Chili

  1. Gaddabout

    If we ever meet up, I challenge you to a chili cookoff! Not because I think I’d win, but because more chili is never a bad thing. =)

  2. I live in the only metropolitan area where chili is an obsession. But most people are not familiar with Cincinnati-style chili, a bizarre concoction that includes such ingredients as dark chocolate and allspice! Still, people who do try it become hooked, too. There are more chili parlors in SW Ohio than there are Wendy’s, Burger King, and McDonalds combined. My little rural town of 2000 people has both a Gold Star Chili and a Skyline Chili. I think Gold Star just by themselves has more than a hundred fifty outlets in the area. Empress Chili is franchised out to little mom and pop diners who serve it along with other things on their menues. In this area, you’re never more than three miles from a chili parlor.

    Only two of the chilis in the cook-off were Cincinnati-style, since it is notoriously hard to duplicate. I’ll never try since I’ve never tasted a homemade Cincinnati-style chili that tasted like the real thing. For me, Tex-Mex works and—obviously—I do it pretty well.

  3. Gaddabout

    I combine some elements of Skyline (cinnamon and a few others Carribean-style spices) and Sonoran-style Mexican. It’s sweet and spicy!

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