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Chilly? Warm Up with Chili!

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Chilly? Warm Up with Chili!

When the air nips and the wind whips, thoughts of cold salads and outdoor campfires turn to deep, steamy bowls of hearty chili–perhaps cooked right in the fireplace.

With its origins hotly debated for years, one account says that prisoners of the Texas penal system in the mid- to late 1800s were fed a cheap stew of tough beef, spices, and chilies that was boiled in water to a semi-palatable consistency. The stories say over time the recipe got better. In fact the aptly named “prisoner’s plight” reportedly became a status symbol of the state’s prison system, with inmates known to rate facilities on the quality of their chili, and even writing for the recipe following their release.

Throughout history, chili cognoscenti have included presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Barack Obama. West Hollywood’s famous Chasen’s restaurant (1936-2000) was celebrated for its chili that Elizabeth Taylor couldn’t live without, reportedly having it flown to the set in Rome where she was filming Cleopatra in 1962.

Counting chili among the quintessential tailgating foods for ballgames, and with regional and national competitions/cook-offs pitting chili masters against neophytes for blue ribbons, gold medals, and culinary immortality in the pages of a cookbook, recipes are limited only by one’s imagination. Maybe you crave the kick or embrace a milder mixture, topped with diced avocado, sour cream, red onion, and sharp shredded cheddar. Chili over spaghetti has become a specialty at some eating venues, with a choice of whole wheat noodles adding a nutty quality to the dish. Whether family members are card-carrying meat eaters, vegetarians, or turkey and chicken connoisseurs, these recipes for feisty autumn chili will endure through the long, cold winter ahead.

(Continued Below)

Obama Family Chili Recipe
Barack Obama has been known to brag about his chili, and Good Morning America ran his recipe. Here’s a copy of it here.


1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground basil
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped
1 can red kidney beans

Cheddar cheese; onions; sour cream

Sauté onions, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add ground meat and brown. Combine spices together into a mixture, then add to ground meat. Add red wine vinegar. Add tomatoes and let simmer until tomatoes cook down. Add kidney beans and cook for a few more minutes. Serve over white or brown rice. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, onions, and sour cream.

Chicken Chili
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds ground chicken
2 (15-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
Water, as needed

Sour cream. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, avocado slices, cilantro, chopped scallions.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until simmering. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, pepper flakes, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt and cook (stirring often) until the vegetables are softened (about 10 minutes). Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in half of the chicken, about 1/2 pound at a time, and cook while breaking up any chunks with a wooden spoon until no longer pink (about 6 minutes). Add beans, tomatoes and tomato puree and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for one hour. Press the remaining ground chicken into a ball, then pinch off teaspoon sized pieces and stir them into the chili. Uncover and continue to simmer; stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and the chili is dark and thickened slightly (about 40 minutes). If the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer. Season with salt to taste. Serve with sour cream, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and cucumber.

Easy Vegetarian Chili
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots, and garlic until tender. Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery, and chili powder. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn. Season with cumin, oregano, and basil. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish as desired.

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1 Jaime McLeod { 09.17.13 at 4:40 pm }

To be clear, we didn’t name the chili after Obama, our freelance writer found it. This is the chili the Obama family makes.

2 Ruben Navarro { 09.17.13 at 10:39 am }

Given the date this recipe was posted, about a month out from the 2012 presidential election – a very contentious campaign tat that – it would have been far more appropriate for Farmer’s Almanac to either (a) not name the chili after Obama, or (b) have a Romney chili run side-by-side with the other.

3 Debo { 10.31.12 at 4:16 pm }

Hmmm. I agree w/Pat K and Nobleowney. And if wasn’t politcal why did you go on the rant against Romney? I doubt the O’s have ever had REAL chili and I would be willing to bet this ain’t their recipe. Whoever heard of putting cucumbers on chili? Really? And yep…I said ain’t! American by birth and Southern by the grace of God!

4 Pauletta W. { 10.03.12 at 8:22 pm }

I agree with Bailey, Wes, tvanderm, & Pat K. Good southern Chili has to be learned by a good southern parent/grandparent!

5 George McGilliard { 10.03.12 at 5:42 pm }

Good grief, folks, it’s only a chili recipe, not a political statement. Although I might well say that Mittens has probably never eaten chili in his life outside of a ‘down South’ campaign diner stop and then only if there was no caviar on the menu. I mean, after all, chili has no prime rib in it. Not fit fare for the Mittens table. Y’all better build a bridge and get over this nonsense. I am sincerely yours.

6 Wes { 10.03.12 at 2:07 pm }

What! Obama Chili! Ok I am unsubscribing from Farmers Almanac

7 Pat K { 10.03.12 at 12:34 pm }

I agree! Traditional Chili is meat, chilies, spices and liquid. Adding all this other stuff makes it soup….good!…but NOT r e a l Chili!

8 Cindy { 10.03.12 at 10:27 am }

Making the Vegetarian Chile you could also add Morning Star, Crumbles by adding this it is very good. It is frozen just add to your veggies…..yum yum!

9 Ali { 10.03.12 at 9:23 am }

Yummy! I put tons of kidney beans in mine…guess what we’re having for supper tonight? 🙂

10 Nobleowney { 10.03.12 at 9:21 am }

One may use a recipe that calls for beans, tomatoes, onions, etal, and it may be tasty, but it ain’t chili. Chili consists of meat, several varieties of chilies, spices and a liquid (I use beer). I serve it straight with all those yankee options as sides (ruin it if you want).

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