Rich Tatum’s award-winning, mouth-watering, mamma-slappin’ chili…

Rich Tatum’s award-winning, mouth-watering, mamma-slappin’ chili…

Okay, it’s the season to make Chili. Red-hot, mouth-watering, addictive chili that will warm your belly in the cold night and keep you satisfied for hours. (Actually, even though my chili calls for a habañero, cayenne, and a poblano pepper, it’s not unbearable hot. A single habañero, diffused through an entire batch of chili, raises the heat level without making it searing. Use half a pepper, or skip it if you don’t like heat.)

A few years ago my apartment community had a Superbowl party/chili cook-off and I wanted to bring something to the party. I’d never made chili before in my life, but I thought, “How hard could it be?” In preparation I went online and looked at a few dozen chili recipes and took note of preparation styles and ingredients I thought would be tasty. Then, armed with a list of ingredients I went to the store, browsed for some more additions, and came home with a massive supply of additions to the larder.

Be forewarned: this chili ain’t cheap.

But I have won awards with every single chili competition I’ve ever entered with this stuff. Friends at work have asked for this recipe and have spread the good feelings to their friends, and it’s become a frequent item on more than one wintry recipe every year. That makes me proud. A good chili is served best with friends sitting close together, talking, enjoying a game, warding off the cold, steaming bowls in hand, with occasional spontaneous rounds of: “Mmm, this is good!”

This chili will do that for you. I guarantee it.

So, in the spirit of good-will, I share my recipe with you. It truly is a tasty recipe, but feel free to modify it to suit your own tastes.

(Props to Steven Roemerman and his award-winning recipe for inspiring me to post my own recipe here for the world to share.)

Rich Tatum’s award-winning, mouth-watering, mamma-slappin’ chili…


  • 1 lb ground beef, lean
  • 1 lb sage sausage (Jimmy Dean’s preferred)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (to brown meat with)
  • 2 cans 16 oz Kidney beans (I got one dark and one light—rinsing optional)
  • 1 16 oz. jar of Pace Chipotle Picante Sauce (medium)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste (4-6 oz.)


  • 10 stalks (twigs) of cilantro, stalks removed, finely chopped
  • (makes about 3 tbsp finely chopped)
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, medium-sized, diced (I like the Vidalia onions)
  • 1 small can sliced or chopped olives (6-8 oz)
  • 1 package of young portabella mushrooms, discard the stems, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (red), diced
  • 1 bell pepper (orange or yellow), diced
  • 1 poblano chili pepper, diced (this pepper is mild)
  • 1 habañero chili pepper, very finely diced—handle carefully or with gloves!


  • 2 tbsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp ground paprika
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp dried, chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tsp dried, chopped basil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3-4 tbsp dried, chopped oregano
  • 1 tbsp powdered beef bouillon
  • 1 tbsp powdered chicken bouillon
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp hickory smoke flavor
  • 1 tbsp Heinz 57 sauce
  • 1 tbsp Heinz A-1 sauce
  • 2-4 tbsp brown sugar (to taste)


  • 1 tsp vinegar (white, or basil)
  • Additional brown sugar to taste


  • 1 cup Colby cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream


This chili may take up to an hour or to prepare—depending on whether you chop vegetables by hand or not. Best tip: get your friends to help you make the chili. According to unverified reports, it tastes great cooked quick as well as slow, but your mileage may vary. I prefer using the slow cooker with timer for my chili and letting the flavors come out overnight.

Sear the onion, garlic, and bell peppers before placing in crock pot—don’t cook them fully, you just want to lightly carmelize the vegetables for a sweeter taste (look for golden color on the onions). Toss the habañero into the crock pot raw. Prepare the remainder of the vegetables as shown above and place in bottom of 4-6 qt. crock pot.

Add all spices. Optionally, you could prepare the spices before hand and cook them into the meat. This will bring out more of the flavor and infuse it with the meat.

Add the 2 cans of kidney beans, draining the beans is optional. Turn crock pot on LOW. (Note, some Texas-based chili competitions forbid the use of beans. This is entirely up to you. I like the beans in my chili. This is up to you.)

Combine meat, brown in skillet with olive oil until all pink in the meat is gone, and drain fat before adding to crock pot (drain fat if desired, there’s depth of flavor in the fat, but when your chili cools it’ll have a thick skin on top if you don’t drain it). If all the meat doesn’t fit in your skillet, divide in batches. The browning is an important step because it brings out greater flavor in the meat. (Some like to add the spices to the browning process to infuse the meat with more flavor. This is why I like to use the Sage sausage, by the way.) Feel free to use the hickory smoke here—or any of the other spices, or add directly to the crock pot if you want.

After searing both the vegetables and browning the meat, add a little wine or water to the skillet and cook over flame, stirring sides with a ladle to loosen what was left behind—add this to the crock pot.

Finally, add your tomato paste and picante/chipotle sauce last.

Cover crock pot. After an hour or two stir contents once. Leave covered for 7-10 hours. In the last hour, add vinegar as flavor enhancer. At this time add more brown to taste.

Remove bay leaf.

Serve with grated cheese and chilled sour cream.

Makes 10-15 servings.


[tags]BlogRodent, chili, habanero, habañero, kidney beans, recipe, SuperBowl, winter, friends, ingredients, chili-pepper, food, menu, hungry, party-food, snack, cooking, recipe, award-winning-recipe, favorite-recipes, cook-off[/tags]

14 thoughts on “Rich Tatum’s award-winning, mouth-watering, mamma-slappin’ chili…

  1. Steven Roemerman

    I did not try your recipe. This year I plan to throw out mine and try to make a competition style chili. I want to see if I can stick to the rules, and end up with a really good chili.

  2. Pingback: Roemerman on Record

  3. Common Swift

    Mushrooms, mint, and curry? What kind of unholy concoction are you trying to spring on us Rich??? And all this time I thought this was a ‘Christian’ Blog.

    Can’t wait to try it though. :0

  4. Rich Post author


    If you do venture out to brew this savory concoction, please let me know how it works out for you!


  5. Common Swift

    I have a killer Mexican mole sauce recipe for chicken (grammy’s recipe) if your interested…

  6. Helen Holston


    My husband and I are entered into a chili cookoff. We are competing against each other and neither of us has ever cooked chili before. Should be interesting.

    I am using yours and he will be doing one with deer meet. YUK!

    I have a feeling I will win.

    I’ll keep you posted. It’s for our local Disabled American Veterans Chapter meeting.

    Take care. Helen

  7. Rodent's Bride

    Apparently in the UK, Cilantro is called “Coriander” and your recipe calls for both cilantro and coriander. I
    wikied it and found they are both the same plant.

    What we call Cilantro in the USA is called Coriander Leaves in the UK.
    What we call Coriander is Coriander Seeds in the UK .

  8. Adam

    Hey! Great tasting chili, but is there something i can do to add some liquid to it, without losing the great flavor? It seems really thick….uh…unless it’s supposed to be that thick.

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