Donna's Award Winning Chili

Donna Graffagnino


One of secret ingredients in this recipe is the beer, so don't leave it out. All of the alcohol will cook out but the unique sweet flavor remains. If you must, non-alcoholic beer can be used. You can make this chili as mild or hot as you like by adjusting the chili powder and cayenne pepper. I've actually won a chili cook-off with this recipe, and another JAP member won 2nd Place! Don't let the list of ingredients discourage you, it's a very easy recipe.
This can easily be converted to a slow cooker dish. Brown off the meat and throw everything in the slow cooker, 8 hours on low, you're done!

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1 Tbsp
bacon grease or vegetable oil
1 lb
lean sirloin, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
1 lb
ground sirloin or round
1 lb
jimmy dean's breakfast pork sausage chub (hot or mild), or ground pork
1 lb
chili stick or brick
2 large
onions, chopped
1 large
bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3-4 large
diced jalapeno, seeded or not (optional)
celery stalks, chopped
28 oz
petite diced tomatoes with juice
15 oz
regular size diced tomatoeswith juice
1 bottle
chili sauce
8 oz
can tomato sauce
6 oz
can tomato paste
8 oz
can beef broth (or water)
beef bouillon cubes if using water
1 can(s)
beer (regular or light)
3 Tbsp
minced garlic
3 Tbsp
mexene chili powder (or more to taste)
1/2 c
dried chives
2 tsp
lea & perrin worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp
granulated garlic or powder
2 tsp
granulated onion or powder
1 Tbsp
cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
2 tsp
cajun seasoning (zatarain's or tony cacharie's)
3 can(s)
(15 oz) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
crushed red pepper flakes if you want more heat (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Donna's Award Winning Chili


  • 1In an extra-large dutch oven (8 qt), on medium high heat, browning cubed meat, ground beef, and pork sausage or ground pork in bacon grease or oil. When cooked transfer meat to a paper towel lined bowl and set aside.
  • 2Add chopped vegetables, except garlic, and cook down until meats are cooked through and vegetables are tender crisp. If added grease is needed add olive oil or margarine.
    *Sometimes I add pickled, diced and seeded jalapeno peppers for flavor rather than for heat factor. Raw jalapenos with seeds will increase the heat level.
  • 3Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat the chili stick by itself until completely cooked down**.
  • 4Lower heat under Dutch oven and add chili, tomatoes, tomato paste & sauce, and chili sauce to pot and mix well, scraping bits from bottom of pot. Continue stirring frequently for about 15 minutes.

    Stir in beef broth, beer, minced garlic, chili powder, chives, Lea & Perrin, and remaining dry seasonings. Return drained meat and vegetables to the pot and stir.
  • 5Cover and simmer on low for about 1 hour, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. If it seems to need more liquid add water or tomato juice (I use V-8).

    Add beans and cook another 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste again for seasonings and adjust as needed. If you're going to use the crushed red pepper flakes add them with the beans.
  • 6Serve in individual bowls with corn bread muffins and choice of garnishes for topping. Enjoy!

    This makes a medium-heat chili. Add cayenne and chili flakes and/or *jalapeno peppers to increase the heat to your taste.

    **Sometimes, not often, there will be larger pieces of unground pork fat in the chili stick so I melt it down separately just in case. Throw those pieces away.

    Garnishes: sour cream, finely chopped onion, thinly sliced green onions, sliced or diced fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers, grated sharp cheddar cheese, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, tortilla chips, etc.

    Competition Tips: Always make this medium hot so that everyone can enjoy it but have plenty of cayenne, hot pepper sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, and chili powder on hand for those who want to spice up their bowl. It's Always better a day or two after cooking, and it freezes well.

    Always make way more than you need for the competition because when the other competitors run out you'll have some remaining for those who still want more. If they keep coming back to your chili, you'll most likely get their vote.

Printable Recipe Card

About Donna's Award Winning Chili

Course/Dish: Beef, Pork, Chili
Main Ingredient: Beef
Regional Style: African
Other Tags: For Kids, Healthy, Heirloom