Watch the game and enjoy some chili

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing to The Wilson Times.


Rather Be Cooking

Chili seems to go hand-in-hand with Super Bowl parties. And why not?

You can make it in advance. It’s easy to prepare a big pot to feed a bunch of football fans. And it’s a crowd pleaser.

I don’t make chili very often, so I asked some friends if they’d step in for me and share their favorite chili recipe.

Jeremy Law, owner and chef at SoCo Farm and Food (and former Wilson Times staffer) created a new chili us.

“Chefs can be easily bored, and new recipes are exciting,” he said.

The recipe features both beef and breakfast sausage, plenty of herbs, black beans and corn, a little instant coffee and cocoa powder and porcini mushrooms.

“I started with the mushrooms, then meat and added from my pantry items that paired well with the mushrooms: red wine, thyme and rosemary, goat cheese,” he said.

Jeremy hasn’t served this recipe yet at his restaurant, located in rural Wilson County near Black Creek.

“I’d actually serve it as a second course ... maybe also adding some crispy, seared maitake mushrooms at the end.”

Jeremy has a few tips for someone who wants to make this chili or experiment with their own creation.

“My primary tips would be, as with any dish, to taste it often,” he said. “I adjusted the amount of most every ingredient here two or three times.

“Chili is pretty subjective and personal. Often chili, and most stews, depend on your mood, the weather, and what you have in the pantry,” Jeremy said. “And the cook should have fun making it. Some people choose to go heavy on the beans and vegetables, others focus on the meat. I prefer a balance ... but, like most chefs, I’ll eat and enjoy most anything.”

Reba Lucas also shared a recipe. I follow Reba on her Facebook page, Welcome to Reba’s Kitchen. I love seeing what new things she is making in that kitchen!

She said the chili her mom, Gloria Lucas, makes is a family tradition.

“My mom always fed anyone who was hungry or just craving one of her delicious meals,” Reba said. “She always made a huge pot that fed many. Anytime my mom says she made chili, everyone is coming, and there are never any leftovers.”

The family recipe starts with the family-size pack of ground beef. It’s seasoned with onion soup mix, a chili seasoning mix and chili power and includes pinto beans.

Reba adds her own special touch to the recipe, she said, and pours in a small container of T.L. Herring chili.

My third recipe comes from co-worker Drew Wilson and his girlfriend, Donna Healy. Drew brings his lunch to work and brought me a sample of their delicious chili that they make with ground turkey and five kinds of beans.

Donna modified an Emeril Lagasse recipe to come up with her chili. She’s been making it for six or seven years now.

“I like it because it is different,” she said. “Flavorful, colorful, and it smells amazing.”

Donna said it’s not your standard hot and spicy chili.

“I like it because it is ready to eat in under two hours from the start of preparation,” she said. “And it is even better the next day.”

Donna makes the chili starting with football season and continues through spring. “Great March Madness food!” she said.

Donna never alters the dry ingredients when she makes the chili and says she likes Cholula hot sauce with it. And Tostitos chips.

“I scoop it up with them.”

Porcini Chili

1 1/2 pounds 85 percent lean beef, ideally grass-fed

1/2 pound pork breakfast sausage

1/2 tablespoon table salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water

1 tablespoon oil (canola or olive)

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small (about 1 cup)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup minced garlic

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated, liquid reserved

28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

2 tablespoons fennel seed

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

3/4 cup mirin (sweetened rice wine)

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon instant coffee

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

15-ounce can black beans, drained

15-ounce can sweet corn, drained

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Texas Pete, or comparable hot sauce

3 tablespoons sazón completa (seasoning blend) preferably Badia

Black pepper to taste

Fresh goat cheese/chevre

Marcona almonds, chopped small

Rehydrate the porcinis in about a quart of warm water. Allow to stand for 45 minutes.

In a large bowl, using your hands, gently break up the pork and beef and incorporate the salt and dissolved baking soda. Let stand for 20 minutes.

In a 6- or 8-quart pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat in the oil, occasionally stirring and using a potato masher to break up the meat into small chunks. When the meat is lightly browned, lower the heat to medium and stir in the onion and cinnamon. Sauté this mix, while stirring, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 or 2 minutes.

Next add the diced tomatoes (with liquid), thyme, rosemary, fennel seed, red wine, mirin, Worcestershire, coffee and cocoa. Use a whisk to incorporate the coffee and cocoa. Drain and add the beans and corn. Drain and mince the mushrooms, but reserve the liquid. Add 2 1/2 cups of the liquid from the mushrooms to the chili.

Over low heat, allow the chili to just barely simmer for about 90 minutes — with only occasional bubbles breaking the surface. Keep it covered with the lid cracked about 1/2 inch. (You want to meld the flavors, without losing much water. If you do boil off some of the volume, simply add a small amount of water to return the chili to its starting level.)

After simmering, add the lemon juice, hot sauce, and 2 tablespoons of the sazón complete. Taste to judge the salt level, adding more sazón a teaspoon at a time. Add black pepper to taste.

Serve the chili with crumbled goat cheese and the almonds sprinkled over (these really make the dish!)

Jeremy Law

My Mama’s Chili

1 family pack of ground beef (3-4 pounds)*

1 medium onion, chopped

2 packs beefy Lipton onion soup mix

2 packets chili seasoning mix

2 tablespoons chili powder

3 family-size cans Luck’s pinto beans

1 can tomato soup

1 soup can full of water

1/4 cup ketchup

Crushed red pepper flakes, season to taste

Texas Pete hot sauce, season to taste

2 teaspoons sugar

Sprinkle of salt and pepper

Cheddar cheese


In a large pot, brown ground beef and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Add beefy onion soup mix. Do not drain.

Add chili seasoning mix, chili powder, pinto beans, tomato soup and water. Add ketchup, crushed red pepper flakes, hot sauce and sugar.

Simmer on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, let it set for about 15 to 20 minutes to thicken.

Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and serve with saltines.

Serves 10 to 12. Leftovers are even better.

Gloria Lucas, shared by daughter, Reba Lucas

* Reba also adds a container of T.L. Herring chili.


2 pounds lean hamburger or ground turkey (Donna uses turkey)

1 cup diced yellow onion

1 cup diced green pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons hot Mexican chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (1/4 for mild heat)

1/8 teaspoon ground corriander

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 bay leaves

1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 small can tomato paste

3 cups beef stock or beef broth

1 15-ounce can Great Northern beans, drained

1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained

1 15-ounce can navy beans, drained

Brown meat with onions and garlic. Add all other ingredients except the beans. Cook on low for 45 minutes. Add beans and cook an additional 30 minutes. Top it off with hot sauce, sour cream, shredded cheese, etc., and serve with Tostitos.

Donna Healy