Observations and Conversations
Ron’s Ramblings is a conversation, a one sided conversation mind you, but a conversation all the same about things that I find fascinating or interesting or unusual or just something noticed during this wonderful journey of life that I want to share with you.
By: Ron Wilkie
When temperatures begin to drop under the freezing mark my appetite begins to long for a nice hot soup. Chili is my very favorite soup. Bright red broth chocked full of ground meat and beans and a variety of spices prominently featuring chili peppers. The mouth waters just thinking about it!
Like most, my first taste of chili came from my mom’s kitchen. For mom the recipe included ground beef, kidney beans, pureed tomatoes, salt ground black pepper and a healthy dose of ground chili powder. Simple, straight forward, comfortable and tasty. Saltine crackers on the side for those who needed to take the edge off the chili powder.
The definition of what is and what is not chili is relative. Relative to where you live or who your family or close friends are. With most foods I tire of those who believe that some foods are not authentic unless they adhere to a rigid recipe and ingredients. Where I came from the debate was with or without beans. Here in Wisconsin the question is with or without noodles.
My opinion? I believe that chili is a soup that features the taste of chili pepper, period. Spare me the discussions concerning noodles and beans. I will eat chili with or without either.
Variations of chili can be found at most any eatery or fine diner that serves it.
The Ohio based chain of Skyline features chili in three configurations:
- 3 Way with spaghetti, chili meat sauce and grated cheese.
- 4 Way with spaghetti, chili meat sauce, grated cheese plus onion OR beans.
- 5 Way with spaghetti, chili meat sauce, grated cheese plus onion AND beans.
Milwaukee based Real Chili gives you more configuration options:
- Mild, Medium or hot pepper spice.
- Single, 1 ½ or double helping size.
- Beans Only, Meat Only or Spaghetti only with chili meat sauce or any combination of the three.
- Extras include: Cheese, jalapeno peppers, onion and sour cream for a nominal upcharge.
The Beaver Dam based business Chili John’s owned by third generation owner Chris Stavropolus:
- One option: What is in his crock.
There are many more places and varieties, of course, but these are my 3 favorite places to go for chili…EXCEPT MINE, OF COURSE.
What’s my chili recipe? I thought you’d never ask. This recipe has changed drastically over the years until about 10 years ago. The following recipe has been a favorite of my children and close friends, and it is rarely altered…much.
Here it is, try it and tell me what you think.
- 1 pound Ground Pork Sausage
- 1.5 pounds Ground Beef or Ground Poultry
- 46 ounces V8 Original Vegetable Juice
- 15.5 ounces Black Beans in mild chili sauce (undrained)
- 15.5 ounces Great Northern Beans in mild chili sauce (undrained)
- 4.5 ounces of diced chili peppers or 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
- 2 tablespoons Dry Rub Seasoning
- 14.5 ounces diced or sliced carrots (drained)
- 14.5 ounces whole kernel sweet corn (drained)
- Brown ground meats on medium heat and season with salt and half of the dry rub
- in a large soup pot (12 to 16 quart).
- Reduce heat to simmer.
- Add the V8 vegetable juice and stir.
- Stir in the chili pepper, beans, carrots and corn.
- Stir in the remainder of the dry rub seasoning.
- Reduce heat to low and let stew for one hour.
The V8 and the dry rub are the key to my unique and awesome flavors. My secret ingredients are Grandpa Rechek’s ground pork sausage and I’m specific with Bad Byron’s Butt Rub.
I know, I know, the chili purists will say that there is no place for carrots or corn in chili…I do not care. This soup is fabulous.
What about noodles? I cook them on the side for those who wish.