Fresh Fridays: A Chili Recipe Straight from Grandma

For this week Joe shares his Grandma’s special chili recipe which took a little convincing as you’ll read below so make sure you try this recipe and leave a comment below.

After receiving several requests for a chili recipe, I have decided to give my Grandma’s chili recipe, just in time for football parties.  This is a special recipe to me because it is one of the first things I ever learned to cook that people thought actually tasted good.  And I learned a valuable lesson when I made it,  you don’t need a long list of ingredients or complicated techniques to make delicious food.  This recipe is a study in the “less is more” philosophy that I use when I cook.  This recipe will be pleasing to many because the ingredients work well together and there aren’t a lot of differing flavors or textures here.  The right combination of a few ingredients is often far better than something that is overly complex.  Chili powder has always been one of my favorite spices, and as the key flavoring ingredient in this recipe, pays homage to the flavor from which this food gets it name.

Every time I make this chili I eat at least half the batch myself and usually gain about 5 pounds the week I have this chili on hand.  In fact this simple recipe means so much to me I almost didn’t want to share it,  but after I “got over myself”  I realized that the point of dear recipes is to allow others to experience how good simple soulful cooking from the heart can be.   I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


60 fl oz tomato JUICE (most important ingredient)  this is exactly 5 cans out of a six pack
3 12 oz cans of dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
2 lbs ground beef
2 large white onions (diced to approx 1/4″)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil


Heat the veg oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute till soft and starting to turn translucent.  Next add garlic and stir in to incorporate.  Immediately add the ground beef and brown evenly, stirring occasionally.  When beef has browned, drain out excess fat.  Add tomato juice and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, reduce to simmer.  Add beans, salt, pepper, and chili powder (at this step you can also add cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or just more chili powder and black pepper, if you like it hot).  When this comes back to a simmer it should start to really smell like chili, reduce even further to a light simmer, cover, and let cook for 1 hour (or as long as you can stand to wait). Turn off heat and let cool 20 minutes before eating.

This is a thin chili by most standards but the flavor given by the tomato juice should be more subtle and makes a better broth or base than most tomato sauces. Eat with lots of friends, and several loaves of fresh Italian bread, and hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do.


You can download a PDF version of this Grandma’s Chili.

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Photo by: Starbuck

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