Out here in Texas, we have a tendency to forget that other states have their own chilis with robust promotion of beans, tomatoes, onions and other ingredients that would be a sacrilege in Sonora or Amarillo.

States like Kentucky. My dad wore a lot of hats during his working life. He was a farmer, a coal miner, an amateur architect, and a volunteer fireman who was the best cook at West Knox Volunteer Fire Department.

Saturday afternoons in Knox County Kentucky meant many things in my young life. Chief amongst them was a treasured trip to the fire department where I could shoot pool, and hang out with a bunch of grown men who not only tolerated me, but actually seemed interested in my endless proselytizing on pro wrestling and comic book-collecting.

It also meant that a big kettle of chili would be under construction.

Daddy’s chili was no firebreather. I still remember when he discovered the magic of cayenne peppers. His quality took a noticeable uptick from that moment onward.


2 lbs Beef, Ground, 73/27

4 c. Beans, Kidney, Camellia brand, Cooked

26 oz Tomatoes, Diced, Canned

2 26 oz cans water

2 T. Tomato Paste

1 Onion, Yellow, Sweet, minced

1 T. Chile, Cayenne, Ground

1 T. Cumin

3 T. Chili Powder, Mexene

1 T. Black pepper, ground

2 Cubes Bouillon, Chicken, Maggi or Knorr

12 oz. Beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon (appropriately enough my dad’s favorite movie is Blue Velvet)


* Brown ground beef in large, heavy bottomed stock pot

* Add minced onion, cook 20 minutes, breaking beef up with big wooden spoon

* Add bouillion cubes, cumin, cayenne and chili powder, cook 20 minutes

* Add tomatoes, water, tomato paste, kidney beans and beer

* Simmer for one hour

* Adjust flavors with salt and pepper (a few glugs of your favorite hot sauce is always a good idea)

Voila. You now have a big kettle of genuine Kentucky fire department chili.

This dish is best served on a cold Saturday afternoon with your favorite college basketball team playing on a weathered big screen TV.

Bonus points if you can round up a 10 year old boy who will constantly inform the diners on historical narratives relevant to the teams that are playing with occasional segues on Andre the Giant and/or the Von Erich wrestling clan from Dallas, Texas.

more Kentucky recipes http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Kentucky-Recipes

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