Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mark and Brendon Make Chili in Dutch Ovens!

And we have the video to prove it!

Remember when I said that cooking is less of a recipe and more of a process?  That it's more than just a list of ingredients?  True that.  And, at the same time, not so much.  I will elaborate in a minute.  Bear with me.

Last night was our ward (A Mormon church congregation) annual chili cookoff.  About fifteen or twenty or so of us all presented our best chilis.  There were judges, and many others that just came to have some great food and fun with friends.  It's been one of our best attended ward activities, almost as much as the Christmas party.

So, like I said, I made the white chili.  I was very meticulous about the process.  I stepped through things one bit at a time, and did everything just right.  And, honestly, I think it was the best chili I'd ever made.

Brendon, on the other hand, pretty much ignored process.  He soaked his beans a while, and he browned the meat before hand, but other than that, he just pretty much added his ingredients as soon as he had them ready.  And his chili tasted great, too!  In fact, his won a very enviable prize that night:  "Best 'what's-your-secret-ingredient' Chili".  Brendon had a great time telling people afterward that it was cilantro. 

Mine won the "Best 'puts-hair-on-your-chest' Chili".  I'm not sure what that means, but I'll take the prize, anyway!

I pretty much followed the ingredients from the other time that I did the white chili, with a few exceptions.

Dutch Oven White Chili

12" dutch oven
16-20 coals below

  • 1 lb dry black eyed peas

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb ground turkey

  • 1-2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 sweet peppers, diced (I like to use different colors, like yellow, orange, and red)
  • 1/2 to 1 jalape┼ło, diced, with seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 4-5 green onion, chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • More salt and pepper, if needed
  • Juice of 1-2 limes, to taste

  • ~1/4 cup corn masa

I started out the night before putting the black-eyed peas into a bowl with a lot of water to soak.  It's important that there be a lot of water, because I've soaked beans before and had them completely absorb the water.  So, flood 'em out!

In the afternoon, when it was time to start cooking, I fired up some coals and put the dutch oven on.  The first step was to cook up the bacon.  I cut it into one inch chunks and dropped it all in.  It took a while, but once it was done, it hadn't rendered out that much grease, not like normal.  So, I just added the sliced onions and the minced garlic to sautee.

Once those were good and carmelized, I moved that all to the sides and put the ground turkey in the middle to brown.  When that was done, I stirred it all together.

This whole process probably took about 45 minutes, so I had to replenish the coals along the way. 

Then, I drained off the murky water the beans had soaked in, and added the stock and the fresh water.  I went ahead and measured the water as well, so that it was more accurate.  I don't know that it mattered much, but I did.

At that point, I let it cook for quite a while.  A couple of hours, really.  I kept replenishing the coals, looking more for a steady simmer than a rolling boil.  Once the beans were cooked soft, you can pretty much consider your chili "done", but I kept going.  Partly because the chili cookoff was still an hour or so away, but also to get more simmering in on the flavors.

A word on the heat:  I would recommend putting a half-jalapeno in the chili to start with, and then, after about 10-15 minutes of simmering, checking the taste.  If it still needs more heat, then you can add it.  That way, you can give it as much oomph as you like.

The final step was the last bits of flavoring and thickening.  I like the corn meal is a great thickener in chili.  It blends well with the southwest kinda feel of the meal.

One of the great things about chili is that it can be anything. That's one of the things this chili cookoff shows me each year.  All these dishes, and they're all so unique and so different, and yet, they're all chili.  What is it that makes them all "chili"?  Some have meat, some don't.  Some have beans, and some don't.  Some are hot and some are sweet.  Really, what is it that defines "chili"?

The cool thing about that is that you can really do almost anything.  There's no reason not to jump in and try it, because you really can't screw it up!


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: "Alleluia" Needs More Work, Hope for 2010,


  1. Your chili looks great. I don't get spicy chili very often with all my little ones. I may have to cook up a pot just for me!! :)

  2. Looks yummy.

    It's funny how the universe works sometimes.... I cooked chili this weekend too! But it looks like you worked a lot harder!



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