“Dan” Good Chili

Ever since I began publicly writing about cooking and food, my husband Dan has been urging me to share his chili recipe.

My answer is always the same: ‘But dear, you don’t have a chili recipe. You make it up as you go!’

It’s true. Dan has run the gamut when it comes to chili ingredients- from beer to ground sausage to limes to coffee to chocolate – but over the past few years, he has refined his recipe to the point where the same ingredients are consistently used and the end result is the same each time- a thick, fiery bowl of beefy chili that has just a hint of sweet to balance out the flavor. And so, since Dan has finally put pen to paper and ironed out his base chili recipe (and he promises he didn’t leave out any secret ingredients), I thought it was high time to share because people truly do love it. This recipe makes a giant pot (we use a 8.75-quart Le Creuset dutch oven) that freezes well, but we typically don’t have much for leftovers. When our friends and family hear Dan is whipping up a batch of his famous chili, they rush over!

The beauty of chili is that it’s so versatile – ingredients can be swapped out based on what is in your pantry, and there is no need for exact measurements. It’s an art, not a science. If you don’t like your chili with a kick, tone down the Sriracha and add more honey or brown sugar. Hate smoked sausage? Leave it out. Serving vegetarians? Bump up the vegetables and add more beans.

This recipe does call for fresh tomato puree as we have the luxury of dozens of quarts of frozen vine-ripened tomato puree thanks to my dad’s abundant garden, but if you don’t have garden-fresh tomato juice on hand, you can substitute plain old tomato sauce or tomato juice. If you have a garden and aren’t using a tomato press to process your excess tomatoes, I highly recommend it- it’s easy to freeze and is a wonderful addition to soups, stews, pasta sauce and Bloody Mary mixes.

Like any soup, chili develops more flavor the longer your let it simmer, so it’s important not to rush it. You want to ensure you have given the chili enough time to let the flavors meld so you don’t taste raw spice and the flavors have had time to build.

Serve this hearty chili with all of the fixings – sour cream, chopped green onions, freshly-grated cheddar cheese, avocado and corn chips – and enjoy!

Dan Good Chili

2 lb. ground chuck beef
1 lb. smoked kielbasa sausage, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped thinly
15 oz. can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
22 oz. can grill-style steakhouse baked beans
30 oz. chili-style beans
28 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 c. fresh tomato puree (or tomato juice)
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt, to taste
2 tsp. pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2-4 Tbsp. Sriracha, to taste
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

In a large Dutch oven, brown hamburger until done. Drain if desired. Add chopped onions and sauté until softened. Add celery and sauté a few more minutes. Add remaining ingredients, stir and let simmer uncovered for 2-4 hours or until flavors have developed and celery is softened. Taste, and adjust spices to your preference. Let simmer again until flavors have melded. Serve with all the fixings- sour cream, chopped green onions, freshly grated cheddar cheese, avocado and corn chips.


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