The Story of Southern Chili (Chili, Baby Back Ribs)

Train Robbery Re-Enactment, the Mean “Robber” is my Host Dad Jerry
The hair! The overalls!
Hay girls!
Jeanne, Olga, & Jeni

Southern Chili

  • 1lb ground meat (I used pork & beef, can be turkey or chicken, or no meat at all)
  • 2 onions
  • 2–3 carrots, we got these lovely multi-colored ones
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 hot pepper
  • 3–5 cloves garlic
  • 2 cans beans (15.5 oz each), I use red kidney beans here
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  • 1 can pureed tomatoes (29 oz)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon (or some dark chocolate)
  • salt & pepper
  • oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • pasta, grated cheese, sour cream, saltine crackers, and an ice-cold drink to serve
Simple & Hearty
Mandolin Slicer to Rescue
  • Chop all the vegetables relatively small. I once again used my mandolin slicer. Just be careful, I managed to slice my finger a little, it was not fun.
  • The hack: if you end up having extra hot peppers, they freeze like a charm, and then they are super easy to grate, or slice. The trick is to remember you have them somewhere! I could barely taste it, so if you like spicy, add more peppers!
Veg Medley
  • Add a few spoons of vegetable oil to the big pot, heat up on medium heat, and dump all the veggies at the same time. Add salt & pepper. Sauté for a few minutes, till vegetables are soft, and onions — translusent. Stir once in a while, for even cooking.
Spice Girls & Boys
  • Add your spices, I think cinnamon is the key. Fun fact, every time I visit my KY fam, I bring back packets of ready chili spice mix. I suspect they sell them everywhere in the United States, but I know for sure “my” Kentucky ones are charged with love & magic, so I add the packet too.
A Must for my Pot
  • Drain the beans, and add them to the pot.
  • Heat through, mix carefully.
  • Add all the tomatoes, diced & pureed. Then fill the big can with water (any good cook would tell you to rinse your cans, Jeanne surely does, my Mom too!), and dump it into the pot. It should be filling up nicely.
  • Bring to heat.
Nice & Red
  • Now add your meat(s). Break in the big chunks with the spoon or spatula.
  • I discovered that adding meat last, keeps it soft, and juicy. If you fry it first it gets a little dry, just make sure you don’t leave big chunks, it gets a little tricky in a big pot filled with tomatoes & liquid.
Beef & PORK: the Perfect Combo, Sorry Kosher Friends!
  • Last but not least add balsamic vinegar. It makes the stew/soup/chili more delicate, and softens tomato flavor.
  • If you want, add a few cubes of dark chocolate now, it gives the dish this nice smokiness, and South American flavor. But cinnamon suffices too.
  • Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer with a lid slightly ajar for 1 hour, or until thickened and reduced, stirring occasionally.
Really Fast & Easy
  • While the chili is bubbling away, prep a few things for serving.
  • Boil & drain pasta (I prefer regular spaghetti).
  • Take out cheese, shred if necessary, get sour cream.
  • Butter a whole bunch of saltine crackers, it’s a pain to do, once you are ready to devour the chili burning your mouth along the way, it’s really hard to pace yourself.
  • I think people also add cilantro or parsley on top, but I don't.
  • Serve it with Coke or cold sweet tea over ice, in a Mason jar, if you can. It will taste even better.
  • Serve your chili over spaghetti, or add it over like a soup, with a whole bunch of cheese, and sour cream.
  • Before you eat, say a little prayer, and remember that good people are everywhere.



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Kitchen Meises with OZ

Kitchen Meises with OZ


Olga Zelzburg affectionately known as “OZ” is an educator, a foodie, and a storyteller. This blog is a collection of her food-related stories.