Making the chile

While I’ve never been much of a cook, I’ve long believed that even non-cooks need to know how to make a few things well. The ideal specialties are low-effort, high-flavor, high leftover, and inoculated against fails due to temperature issues or cooking time.

Deb always made good chile, but her recipe really took off when I suggested we put chorizo in it. She is more the type to substitute than I, and when she couldn’t find chorizo one time, she threw in sausage and it wasn’t the same. I prefer fascist measuring, precise ingredients and an exact recipe that will produce the same thing every time. Once it’s good, one doesn’t need to mess with it. I am going into unusual levels of detail here to help non-cooks best handle the annoying little details. Experienced cooks can rewrite this without the complete sentences and extra details that they already know to do.

Hardware you need:

  • A big wide pot (16″ wide x 5″ deep will work) with lid
  • A smaller wimp pot with lid (size depends on how many wimps you are feeding)
  • The usual utensils: skillet, knives, cutting board
  • Plastic bag to stick garbage in as you get it (don’t slob up the kitchen)


  • 1# hamburger (get the low fat kind)
  • 1# chorizo (beef is best)
  • 2 qts spicy tomato vegetable juice
  • 4 oz. chile seasoning (watch the packets, some brands are less than an ounce per packet)
  • 4 16 oz. cans chile beans
  • 1 onion (your choice which kind and size)
  • Cayenne
  • Fritos
  • Grated cheddar (shredded is better)
  • Sour cream (optional)


  • Wash your damn hands. Fascism in kitchen cleanliness is a virtue.
  • Don’t heckle the wimps, and don’t tell them the wimp pot is called the wimp pot. Their deficiency of taste is its own penalty, and in the end, you want everyone to have an excellent meal that they enjoy. If they are around, hide this recipe paper so they don’t see it.
  • Put on a big apron. As cook it is your right and privilege to wear this emblem of status. Plus, it’ll keep chile from splucking onto your shirt when you do a sloppy job of mixing it around.
  • Dice the onion in this way: put on goggles. Cut off the ends, without going overboard. Set on the flattest end, and split it in half right down the vertical center. Peel both halves. Turn one half on its side and start cutting it downward from the wide middle to the end, without cutting all the way through. Rotate 90° and cut downward again from one side, and this time go all the way through. Repeat for the other half. Fish out any skin pieces, especially at what were the ends. Dump in pot.
  • Dump the chile seasoning and beans in the pot. Yes, including the bean juice. Everything but the empty cans and packet paper.
  • Fry the hamburger and chorizo in skillet on wide burner on 5 until all the hamburger is brown. Make sure it gets well mixed up. But happily, even if there’s a spot you missed, relax. The later process will cook all those. Turn the wide burner down to 2. Dump meat in pot.
  • Put pot on wide burner on 2. Pour in spicy veg juice. Should just about fill the pot to 1″ from top. Mix it up real well, cover. Keep shoveling the chile around every so often with a spatula because on 2, some of it will stick to the bottom now and then.
  • After an hour on 2, turn the wide burner to simmer (1). Turn on a small burner, also set on simmer.
  • Ladle enough chile into the wimp pot (hold it over the main pot to avoid mess) to feed the wimps generously. Put the wimp pot on the smaller burner.
  • If you like it medium hot, put 1 tsp cayenne in the main pot. If you like it a lot hotter, knock yourself out. Cover both and let simmer for 3-4 hours, mixing them around now and then.
  • Everyone gets to set theirs up how they like it, but to make it really delicious, top the bowl with grated cheese and then a bunch of fritos. Sour cream is also good to add, either for taste or those terminally averse to even mild spiciness. The end result is sort of like liquid tamale.
  • Serves two hardworking, hungry, big, strong Canadians plus one hungry adult male, and still produces a bunch of leftovers. Leftovers make excellent topping on nachos.

2 thoughts on “Making the chile”

  1. As an expert cook, I didn’t skip any of the recipe because it was hilarious! Thank you for acknowledging that not everyone defines a savory dish by having their mouth incinerated and that the end result is that everyone enjoy an excellent meal! Hear! Hear!
    I also thank you for reminding everyone that slobbing up the kitchen is unacceptable. Clean as you go, folks, clean as you go!


    1. Word up, Shannon. I’m not a big believer in forcing machismo on anyone, but least of all people who come to my home and imagine that I will treat them kindly. And of course, if your whole household doesn’t do hot, you can do one pot and bag the cayenne altogether. So far this has worked for three sets of guests with varying degrees of heat tolerance, so I feel pretty good about it. Thanks for stopping by!


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