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Home > Close-Ups > My Award-Winning Recipe for "Three-Alarm Chili"



My Award-Winning Recipe for "Three-Alarm Chili"



I've been making chili since I was in high school, mostly from the same basic recipe:  ground beef, tomato paste, and chili powder.  Frankly, it was all right but not great.


Back in 1995, I found a recipe that had won First Place in the National Chili Cook-off in California that year.  I made it one night and it was incredible.  I modified it a bit over the years to suit my taste and I posted my recipe below.  Note that it uses chocolate and four types of chili powder.  By the way, real chili fans wouldn't think of putting beans in their chili, so I've made them optional.  The chili won't burn your tongue or make you sweat (if you enjoy those sensations, just double the cayenne), but it is pretty darn spicy.  


This chili takes a lot of time to prepare, but it's absolutely awesome. 


Part 1:

      4 pounds steak (round or sirloin, not ground)

      6 teaspoons vegetable oil

      1 teaspoon seasoned salt

      3 teaspoon garlic powder

      2 teaspoon meat tenderizer

      2 medium white onion, chopped

      2 bell pepper, chopped


Part 2:

      2 - 10-oz. can chicken broth

      2 - 10 oz. beef broth

      2 - 6 oz. tomato paste

      4 - 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, peeled, chopped, and drained

      10 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or garlic powder)

      10 tablespoons Gebhardt chili powder

      8 tablespoons California chili powder

      4 tablespoon medium hot New Mexico chili powder

      4 tablespoon ground pasilla chili

      4 tablespoon ground cumin

      4 teaspoons cayenne pepper

      2 teaspoon salt

      2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

      2 teaspoon ground oregano

      2 teaspoon garlic powder

      4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate


      2 - 27-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

      1 - 20-oz. can red beans, rinsed and drained

      1 - 15-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained


Part 1: Cut meat into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes.  Cook each pound of meat separately this way:  In large cooking pot, heat 1 teaspoon cooking oil, stir in 1 pound cubed meat, then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon meat tenderizer.  When meat is lightly browned, drain off all fat.  Saute chopped onions and chopped bell pepper.


Part 2: Return all the meat, the onions, and the bell pepper to the pot and add all of the Part 2 ingredients, and beans if desired.  Stir well to combine.  Simmer uncovered over low heat for 3 hours, adding an additional 1 can chicken broth if necessary.  Do not allow to boil.  Store in refrigerator overnight, reheat for 2 hours the next day, and eat (chili is always better after it sits overnight in the refrigerator).


This recipe makes 8 quarts (approx. 12 pounds). I usually make a triple batch, which will just about fill two 16-quart pots.


Serve with milk and crackers. 



Above:  Making 65 pounds of chili on New Year's Eve, 1999 to celebrate the new millennium.  Note the army of empty cans in the background.  This recipe is a lot of work but it's worth it.  Also, chili freezes well so I usually make a lot at one time and put it in the freezer.

Above:  That's me cooking up "only" two pots of chili in New York during 2001 when I visited my brother.