Thom's Chili Bowl

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A Cooking Adventure with Thom


Welcome to Thom's Chili Bowl


A Bowl of Different Chili Peppers.

This is a picture of Thom and Donna Hackett

Picture of some very hot chilies: The Habanero

I didn't grow up in Texas or the Southwest but I developed a fondness for very spicy and hot foods early in life.  I experimented with many recipes over the years and Chili has become my favorite spicy dish.  I have also discovered Chili is a subject that almost everyone has an opinion of how it should be made.   I have not met nor am I aware of anyone who makes chili and isn't convinced his or her chili is best.  In my opinion that is what makes chili so special.
Although I did not grow up in Texas, Donna and I did live in San Antonio for a while and rekindled my desire for spicy foods and my desire for spicy foods made me the spicy food lover I am today.  The foods served up in San Antonio are without match anywhere in the world.

I find Chili Cook-offs to be exhilarating and I can't seem to pass up one.  All the wonderful smells, taste, texture, and spices fascinate me, as they are prepared and cooking as people make their particular version of Chili.  I have tasted chili where the chef substituted the beef with a myriad of meats to include chicken, turkey, venison, elk, pork, sheep, goat, buffalo, rabbit, and some exotic meat such as rattlesnake, etc.  I guess what I am saying is that you can make chili from any edible meat.  However, some I have not been brave enough to try.  But there is still time. Furthermore, there are many Chili Societies that are designed specifically for the chili lover.
To me, of coarse, a bowl of chili contains two main ingredientsóBeef and Chili powder.  Some folks feel they can make a good chili using pork or pork & beef mixed.  It's true they can and I enjoy it on occasion but I am partial to using only beef in my chili.  For a long time I made my own chili powder by grinding the chilies into a powder and adding cumin and oregano.  But now, I have found that most commercial chili powders already include cumin, oregano and garlic in a mixture that works well for me.  However, if you are a traditionalists then I have included in my Bowl of Red recipe the ingredients you will need if you use a pure chili powder or "Chile Molido".

What makes chili peppers hot? Capsaicinoids.  Like to know more about what capsaicinoids are and how to tell how hot a chili will be? Paul Bosland, professor of horticulture at New Mexico State University is a foremost authority on chili peppers.  Check his article at .

How to Prepare Chilies.

  • To Roast and Peel Chilies...

    Put chilies on a baking sheet. Place under a preheated broiler about four inches from heat. Turn the chilies until they are completely blistered and charred. Enclose the chilies in a paper bag and let them steam until they are cool enough to handle. Under running water, start at the blossom end and peel the peppers, discarding stems, ribs and seeds. Now they are ready to use. If a broiler is not available, use a fork and hold each chili over the flame of a gas stove top burner.
  • To Freeze Chilies...

    You need not blanch chili peppers before freezing them.  Simply seed them (skin by roasting and peeling if desired), chop them up and freeze in small portions for later use.
  • To Dry Chilies...

    Cut entire whole plant at its base or harvest individual peppers and string them from the stem ends on strong thread.  Hang up to dry in a cool, dry, airy place.

Chili History

The people I met while living in San Antonio, Texas were quick to point out that chili was invented in San Antonio, Texas, about the middle of the Nineteenth Century and it began as a simple peasant stew using materials inexpensive and at hand.  I have found nothing to refute that and have no reason not to trust them.  Meat, Chile Peppers, Camino, Oregano and Garlic made up the first recipes.  I also discovered while living in San Antonio that all the spices listed above except the Camino grow wild in the South Texas area.

Chili Information

Here is my Recipe...

"Thom's Bowl of Red"

If you have ten people making chili then you have ten ways to make the most authentic "bowl of red".  It doesn't matter if it is Billy Bob's "Hot Pot" or Bart's "Jump Start" Or Buffalo Bill's "Road Kill", everyone who makes chili "makes the best".  Ask them.  Doesn't matter, my bowl of red is definitely the best ever.


These are the Ingredients that I like in my chili.  You can adjust to your taste.

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 7 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (add only if not in chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (add only if not in chili powder)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons paprika or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce or to taste
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 16 ounces water
  • 28 ounces canned tomatoes pureed
  • 2 tablespoons masa or masa harina

This is how I prepare it.

  • Brown the beef by searing it in a skillet or Dutch oven, drain well.
  • Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper over medium heat, stirring as you add.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes more, stirring frequently.  Mix chili powder, (coriander, cumin, and oregano only if your Chili Powder does not contain them), salt and paprika together, and stir into pan.
  • Add Tabasco sauce, tomatoes, tomato sauce and water; bring to a boil then simmer, covered, about 30 minutes, stirring and adding water as needed.  If you want it spicier cook it an additional 15 minutes.
  • Mix the Masa with 4 tablespoons of water to make a paste, and slowly stir into chili to thicken.  Cook 2 minutes more.
  • I serve the chili topped with chopped red onions, chopped Jalapenos, and shredded cheese.

Here are some more chili recipes for you...

Chili Associations and Societies:


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819 Mountshire Terrace, Chester, Virginia 23836 Phone: (804) 530-1183