Paul and Kathleen’s (Pretty Damn Close to) Definitive Chili

The best time of the year has arrived. The leaves change to crimson and apricot, the air’s crisp, and the light turns mellow and golden.

It’s the perfect time for a piping hot bowl of chili.

During our years together, we have made many variations of “our” chili. Each one coming closer to what will one day be our “definitive” chili. This one is pretty damn close.


Paul and Kathleen’s (Pretty Damn Close to) Definitive Chili


2 pounds meatloaf mix (reserve 2 tbs meat drippings)

1 pound 93/7 lean ground beef

1/2 pound pepper bacon (and 1 tbs bacon drippings)

1 tbs canola oil

1 green bell pepper

1 red onion

2 serrano chiles

10 garlic cloves

1 20 oz can tomato puree

2 14 oz cans Rotel tomatoes with mild chiles

1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

3/4 tbs syrup



Garlic powder

Onion powder


Northwoods Seasoning (Pensey’s spices)

Hot chili powder (Pensey’s spices)

Chili powder


Dry cilantro


Dice peppered bacon and brown in a skillet. Reserve fat.

Meanwhile, dice your veggies and mince (or grate) your garlic cloves. Leave the seeds in your serrano peppers, unless you’re a total wimp and can’t stand the heat.

In a separate skillet, brown your meat. Reserve fat.

In a large stock pot of Dutch oven, heat 1 tbs canola oil, 2 tbs meat drippings, and 1 tbs bacon fat. Sauté veggies until translucent. Add garlic. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

Drain meat mixture and add to the veggies. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, Northwoods Seasoning, and hot chili powder. Add 1 tsp cumin and 1 1/2 tsps chili powder.

Break open the cans of tomatoes and add them, along with 10 oz water. Re-season the mixture, but reduce the cumin to 1/4 tsp and increase your chili powder to 2 tsp. Add a good size glug of syrup (about 3/4 to 1 tbs).

Bring to boil. Reduce to low simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add a palmful of dry cilantro.

Holy fuck! Enjoy!

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