Mr. "t"s Award Winning Chili

"I want to share with you my chili recipe. This recipe has won awards at chili cook-offs that we have on St. Simons Island, Georgia. This recipe and slight variations have won some top honors at a number of local events over the past 10 or so years. I stole the basis of this recipe from my neighbor "Wally" and old coot from California, but don’t tell him. So, let’s start with the ingredients."
photo by a user photo by a user
Ready In:
6 quarts




  • Go ahead and chop those peppers. I don’t go too crazy in trying to get everything uniform since chili is a pretty rustic dish, but you do want them relatively small and manageable pieces. You can just use green bell peppers if that’s all you have, but I really like to use one bell, and one poblano pepper.
  • The same goes for the onions. Again, uniform size isn’t all that important because they will really soften up after cooking and be virtually shapeless anyway. I really like Vidalia sweet onions for this for their milder flavor. Or use whatever kind you have on hand or prefer. In this case, I used one large onion that weighed a little over a pound. If you’re using smaller onions, you may want to use a few. I’d say all together, it was around 3 cups.
  • Once you have the onions and pepper chopped, mince up about 6 cloves of garlic. Then, throw everything into a big bowl. Keep in mind that you’ll also be adding all of the meat and mixing it together for marinating a bit later.
  • Chop the steak into about half inch cubes. Round steak typically comes in big flat slabs that are around 1/2 inch thick anyway, so it’s easy enough to cut it into strips, and then cube it crosswise. It can take a little time to get through all of the chopping for this recipe, but your patience will be more than rewarded.
  • Once you add the chopped steak to the big mixing bowl full of onions and pepper, take the roll of sausage and break it up into pieces. At this point you’re not looking to do anything special with the sausage other than make it easy enough to work with. Don’t throw the whole log right on top since that will make your mixing job that much harder. Just break it up into pieces with your fingers.
  • Now comes the fun part! To your meat, onion, and pepper mixture, add the seasoning for the marinade. To the bowl, add a few tablespoons of salt. I prefer kosher salt myself, but whatever you have is fine. Then, add a teaspoon or so of black pepper. For me, that’s about 20 turns on my pepper grinder. Now it’s time for the liquid components. We’ll be using both the liquid smoke and the Worcestershire sauce. No exact measurements here, but I’d guess about 4 or 5 tablespoons of Worcestershire and maybe 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke to start. Then, dig in with your hands! You need to thoroughly mix everything together. After you get things pretty mixed, you can determine if you need to add any more liquid. You don’t want a soup, but you want it to be moist and have everything covered.
  • Now, we wait. Cover the bowl, and throw it in the refrigerator overnight if possible. You really want the flavors to get into the meat since that is the heart and soul of this recipe, but if overnight won’t work, you can probably get by with 4 hours. The longer you’re able to let it sit, the better it will be. I know, the smell that this mixture has created will fill your house with some of the most amazing aromas ever, but you’re just going to have to wait.
  • Cooking the Chili.
  • After the mixture has had time to marinate, it’s time to begin the actual cooking. You’ll want the largest skillet you have to make this process go as quickly as possible. Remember, we’re working with nearly 4 pounds of meat and about 4 or 5 cups of vegetables. Even with a large skillet, it is impossible to brown everything in one batch. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t even try it. If you cram everything into the pan, you’re not going to speed anything up. It will take even longer to cook, and you’ll end up basically steaming the meat. So, work in batches. I have a 12-inch skillet that I used here and it took 3 batches. Each batch took about 7-10 minutes on medium-high heat. We’re not too concerned if the meat is 100% fully cooked since it is going to go into a pot and simmer for a few hours.
  • As your meat begins to brown, you’ll see the liquid that’s coming out of the meat and veggie mixture. This is good! The last thing you want to do is to cook it so long that you boil this all away. You do want to have it reduce a little bit as to make sure you don’t end up with soup instead of chili, but this liquid that’s been extracted from the onions, peppers, meat and marinade is flavor that you can’t get anywhere else. So, it goes right into the chili pot.
  • Once all of the browned meat is dumped into a big pot, you can add the entire can of chili beans. Then, add almost one entire can of crushed tomatoes. We’ll probably end up using close to the entire two cans of tomatoes, but you want to be careful and go slow with adding them, because it can turn from chili to soup very quickly. Remember, you can always add, but it’s very hard to subtract. So start with that, and give it all a good stir to check the consistency.
  • This is the consistency you’re looking for, is for it to hold up well for dipping, but not so runny that you need to almost drink it.
  • Once you get the right consistency, it’s time for the seasoning. There is no exact science here, and you can really experiment with what works best for you. But you’ll want to start with about 2 tablespoons of chili powder, about 5 dashes of Tabasco sauce, and a teaspoon of both cumin and coriander. Top it off with a light sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Give it a good stir and see how it tastes. It will probably be pretty bland, and that’s fine. Again, it’s easier to add flavor, but nearly impossible to take it out once it’s inches So, slow and steady is the key here. After adding the first round of spices, add a little more of each, with the chili powder being the primary ingredient, and add just small amounts of the others. Keep doing this until the taste and amount of heat is right for you.
  • All you have to do now is let it simmer. At minimum, I try to give it two hours, but if you have four, that’s great. This long and slow cooking process really gives the meat a chance to become very tender, and all of the flavors and spices to come together.
  • Eating the Chili.
  • And now it’s time to serve and eat! I like my chili a number of different ways. As pictured above, just a bowl with some shredded cheese on top is fantastic. Sometimes, if I want to make a little more of a meal out of it, we’ll whip up some corn bread. The chili also works great as a dip. I love to buy those Frito Scoops and just dig in with those. Or, consider topping your baked potato with some chili. The possibilities are endless, so you can either serve it all up to a group at a party, or use it in a variety of ways to feed your family for a few days.
  • Chili also stores quite well. It will last for about a week in the refrigerator, or if you want, put some in the freezer and thaw it out a month or two down the road. Since it is a bit labor-intensive and makes quite a bit, it doesn’t hurt to save some for eating later when you don’t feel like cooking and don’t want to spend money eating out.
  • Enjoy,.

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