The Best Damn Chili Recipes Ever

Beck’s Chili

PERFECTED BY: The late Harold Beck, who acquired this recipe for the thick, bean-flavored chili from the cook at his first tavern, Harold’s Bar. He added his own ingredients when he opened Beck’s Bar, the predecessor to the popular East Side hang out now known as The Pub. In the 1990s, Harold’s son, Terry, served his dad’s famous chili at the Chili Bowl on West Franklin. Pub owner Larry “Bubbles” Pollock pulled out an old copy of recipe to share with us.

•  12 pounds of ground beef
•  4 heaping tablespoons ground cumin
•  1 heaping tablespoon garlic power
•  5 heaping tablespoons chili powder
•  3 level tablespoons cayenne pepper
•  1 No.10 can Bush chili beans and sauce
•  1 24-ounce can Bush chili beans and sauce
•  1 46-ounce can tomato juice
•  2 medium onions, chopped
•  2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Saute onions in oil. Add beef. Cook until brown. Drain fat. Add beans, spice and tomato juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for three to four hours. Makes three to four gallons.

Jack’s Chili

PERFECTED BY: The late Jack Reeder, father of Evansville Living editor and publisher Kristen Tucker. Reeder, a chili aficionado, made his chili to taste, not from a written recipe. But shortly before he died in 1979 he jotted it down on the back of a bank deposit slip for his wife, Mary. Tucker’s photocopy of it is now worn, wrinkled and stained, but it’s still the best damn chili recipe in the family.

•  2 to 3 pounds beef
•  Green pepper, chopped Onion, chopped

•  Two cans tomatoes
•  Chili powder (amount listed on chili powder jar) or 4 teaspoons
•  1 teaspoon cumin
•  1 teaspoon garlic powder
•  Two cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
•  1 tablespoon salt
•  1 can tomato paste
•  1 can tomato sauce
•  Tomato juice to desired consistency
•  Lemon juice
•  Tabasco sauce

Using this base recipe, I routinely doctor it up, adding, depending on what’s in my cupboard, beer and bittersweet or dark chocolate. You can increase the heat if you add the chocolate. I also experiment with different salts: kosher and sea salt. – Kristen K. Tucker

Super Bowl Chili

PERFECTED BY: Randy Pearson, owner of the Rivertown Butcher Shop in Newburgh; and Joe Blair, host of 105.3 FM “Superhits of the 60s & 70s.”

•  1 3-ounce shaker of Joe Blair’s Chili Spice
•  2 pounds, ground chuck
•  1 pound smoked sausage or chicken breast, diced
•  6 sweet apples peeled, cored and diced
•  2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
•  2 14-ounce cans chili beans
•  1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
•  1 10-ounce can tomato soup
•  1 packet Lipton onion soup mix, prepare as instructed
•  1 large white onion, diced
•  2 tablespoons salt
•  2 tablespoons pepper
•  2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
•  4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese for garnish

In large skillet combine half a shaker of Joe Blair’s Chili Spice with the ground chuck and smoked sausage. Brown and drain. In large pot combine the meat and remaining ingredients including the remainder of the Chili Spice. Slowly simmer for one hour stirring frequently. May add water during this period for desired consistency. (For crisper apples, add with only 15 minutes left.) Serve with oyster crackers and shredded cheese. Great with grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwiches. Serves 8 to 10.

Kraut Haus Chili

PERFECTED BY: Jim Kluesner and Don Hillenbrand, both members of Germania Maennerchor, the century-old German singing club on the West Side. Neither man has ever written down the exact ingredients, but agreed to cobble together a recipe for Evansville Living readers. Look for Kraut Haus Chili at the Germania Maennerchor’s booth at the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival.

•  2 pounds ground beef
•  2 pounds ground sausage
•  2 pounds coarsely ground venison
•  2 cups chopped onions
•  3 large green bell peppers, cut in strips
•  9 tablespoons chili powder
•  6 teaspoons sugar
•  6 cloves garlic, minced
•  12 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
•  10 cups diced tomatoes 3 cups tomato sauce
•  1 1/2 teaspoon salt Pepper to taste.

Brown meat in vegetable oil. Drain off fat. Add onions, garlic and green pepper. Cook five minutes, stirring constantly. Add chili powder, sugar, garlic, sauerkraut, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer one to two hours before serving. Serves a crowd of 18-20.

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