an award-winning chili recipe and a straight-from-the-farmer’s-market salad

i’d like to take the opportunity to share the recipe for the best chili i’ve had the pleasure to taste, as invented by my cousin jeff and his friend jack.

pssssh, you say. everyone thinks they have the best chili recipe.

well, does everyone have a ‘people’s choice’ award from an actual legit chili cookoff?

people’s choice?’ you disdainfully snort. that’s like the loser miss congeniality award for the girl that doesn’t have big enough fake boobs to actually win Miss New Jersey Junior Teen America.

the deal is though, this chili also won third place in the entire competition. and you wanna know who came in first? THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. sheesh. who do these guys think they are? just because you save lives every day and can drag a 200 lb dummy up a 30 foot ladder while surrounded by burning flames AND rescue cats doesn’t make you special, guys. sometimes cats even save YOUR ass.

wanna know who came in second? THE POLICE DEPARTMENT. hello!? corrupt cops much? we’ve all seen training day and the departed and lakeview terrace (okay, nobody saw lakeview terrace, but you get the point). clearly, the judges in this competition gave out the undeserved second place win in exchange for a duffel bag full of unmarked bills and bags of medical-grade columbian cocaine. which means third place in the cookoff, edging out the sanitation department, the finance department, and the dudes who maintain the parking meters (i made that up), is a huge freaking deal. it’s true. this chili rocks. it starts off with a pound of bacon, how could it not be spectacular? make it yourself and find out…

jack and jeff’s award-winning chili:

1 lb bacon

3 lbs beef or pork (any cut is fine, trimmed into smallish cubes)

3 cups diced onions

6 cloves of garlic, minced

4 cans red kidney beans, drained

½ cup honey

¼ cup mild molasses

½ cup cider vinegar

2 ½ cups ketchup

¼ cup yellow mustard

8 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

4 tbsp cumin (to taste)

2 tbsp cayenne (to taste)

2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a large pot until rendered, about 6-8 minutes. Add meat and continue to brown until all meat is uniform in color. Add onions and garlic, continue to cook until onions appear translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 3 hours or until reduced by about a third. When the meat starts to fall apart, and the sauce is thick, it’s ready to go. Enjoy!

mmmm. it’s like pulled pork in a pot. sweet and savory, tender and hearty, just a little bit spicy, this chili is absolutely fantastic. i don’t have a photo of it, but this is a picture of the super cool vintage stove in jeff’s dogtown, west oakland converted garage loft where the chili magic happens.


word on the street is that i had four bowls, but there is no proof of that outlandish statement. although there was barely a square inch left in my stomach for anything but meat, you can spy on the right in the above photo a salad made from ingredients from the ferry building farmer’s market. this one great greens stand will let you mix and match all sorts of lettuce types for salads, i highly recommend.

farmer’s market salad with broccolini, sundried tomatoes, chickpeas, and homemade croutons:

1 big handful miner’s lettuce, similar to spinach but a tiny bit sweeter

1 big handful arugula

1 big handful assorted pretty colored lettuce

1 big handful broccolini, blanched and cut into small pieces

1/4 pound barrel-aged feta from cowgirl creamery

1 small handful sundried tomatoes, cut into small pieces

leftover olive and sourdough bread from grilled cheese making, toast at 350° for about 15 minutes until hard, then torn into small pieces. look ma, i made croutons!

1 can garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas, aka not from the farmer’s market but a random can of beans i happened to have in my cupboard. these, like artichoke hearts, are useful to purchase, forget about, and then seredipitously find when you need something last-minute to add to a salad or pasta

dressing: splash of olive oil, splash of pomegranate vinegar and red wine vinegar (but you can use pretty much anything), minced shallots and garlic (always adds a nice kick to dressing), salt and pepper. if you’re taking a salad somewhere, it’s nice to bring your own dressing in a jar and toss it right before eating.

directions: put everything in a big bowl. toss with dressing.  eat!


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