Award-Winning Chili (With a Side of Corn Bread)

When I was in college, I decided to join my favorite dive bar’s chili cook off. I pulled up my mom’s recipe for chili and several online recipes and began intensely annotating ingredients and amounts until I had developed my own recipe – a Franken-chili that I eagerly assembled and took to the bar that weekend. We set up our crockpots on the covered pool table and went around tasting the many different submissions. Later in the afternoon when they announced the winners, I was pleased and excited to win first place (and a $100 bar tab, which I used a few weeks later to throw a party for some friends.)

The problem I discovered later, was that I could not really decipher my notes to remember what I had actually used in the chili. Was that one can of beer added on the the bottom of the ingredient list? Or was it in the upper right hand corner, underlined, no beer? Every subsequent batch was lack luster or even bad. Finally, a couple weeks ago I hit the sweet spot. I put it in the crockpot in the morning, cleaned the house, (sneaked a small bowl of chili ahead of time), went to the bars with our friends, then came home and had our fill of chili and played board games. It was a success – and this time I made sure to write it down. Although I was hesitant to add sugar, it’s importance is in keeping the acidity down for a deeper, roastier flavor. Next time, I may experiment with using a small amount of maple syrup instead. 20191022_190732

Marie’s Award Winning Chili

Serves 4

1lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 can (16oz) crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (16oz) red kidney beans, undrained
1 green pepper, chopped very finely

1) Brown ground beef in large saucepan, using a spatula to break the meat as finely as you can. Doing this on a lower temperature instead of a higher one helps to get the meat very small instead of cooking in large clumps. Add onion and garlic and saute together in the fat from the meat.
2) Stir in remaining ingredients and transfer everything to a crockpot. Cook on low for at least 6 hours – longer is better.
3) Serve with warm corn bread and your choice of toppings.
Stovetop Directions: After step one, add everything except beans to the pot and heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Next, stir in beans and heat to boiling again. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until it is at desired consistency – about 20 minutes.


Warm Corn Bread (copied from a very old piece of paper in my recipe book which may be from Betty Crocker, but I’m not sure.)

12 servings

1 1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c shortening
1 1/2 c plain yogurt (or buttermilk, or milk that has expired in your fridge, or a mixture of yogurt and milk)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all ingredients; beat vigourously 30 seconds. Pour into greased round pan (9 x 1.5 inches) or square pan (8x8x2 inches). Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes.

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