Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Chilies

Since I’m working on a book titled Texas is Chili Country (probably to be published by Texas Tech University Press in the Fall of 2014), I’m ever alert to chili recipes. And in researching various mutations (yes, they are) of chili across the country, I had read about Cincinnati chili but had no recipe. I was delighted to find this by Cheryl Norman on the blog, “Chicklets in the Kitchen.” She rewrote it for me, and for good measure, threw in a recipe for Vermont chili. Who knew Vermont had chili, let alone as fiery as some Texas chili? Another treasure, with her permission, for my book. Read, cook, and enjoy these recipes from Cheryl, herself a cookbook author.
Please welcome Cheryl Norman to Potluck with Judy

I love to travel and I love to cook, which means I’m happy when traveling in an RV. I sample dishes all over the United States and try recreating them in my tiny motor home kitchen. Recently, I published a collection of my versions of the recipes as sort of a culinary tour in my cookbook Hasty Tasty RV Recipes.

One dish I found fiercely debated was chili. Texans have their style, a spicy, meaty chili. Southern chili often has beans and corn. Midwest chili often is served with elbow macaroni or spaghetti. One thing all chili has is great taste. Two of my favorites, vastly different in seasonings and flavor, are Vermont chili and Cincinnati chili.

What? You don’t think of Vermont for chili? Neither did we until we happened upon a café featuring the state championship chili. We had to order it, although we still had our doubts. Turned out to be spicy, as hot as any Tex-Mex dish, and yummy. It’s still one of our favorite gastronomic memories.

Cincinnati Chili, according to my husband, isn’t chili at all. It’s a pasta dish with a flavorful and meaty sauce, but it’s not chili. He may not be a fan of the Mediterranean version of chili, but I am. I love Cincinnati-style Chili. Here is my version:

Hasty Tasty Cincinnati-style Chili

1 pound lean ground beef or lean ground turkey

2 cups water or broth

1 cup frozen diced onion

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. garam masala*

1 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 15-oz can tomato sauce

2 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti

1 can small red beans, rinsed and drained (optional for topping)

1 cup diced onion (optional for topping)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional for topping)


Cook ground beef in the water or broth over medium heat in a large (4 quart) saucepan.

When the beef is cooked, add onion and garlic. Stir.

Add the spices, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and tomato sauce. Stir and     bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the sauce from heat. Serve over cooked whole wheat spaghetti and add optional toppings if desired.

Five-way chili is topped with cheese, onions, and beans. Four-way is topped with two of the three, etc.

 Yield: Serves 4

Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the freezer for up to four  months.

*Garam masala is a spice blend. Or make your own as follows:

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

½  teaspoons ground coriander

½  teaspoons ground cardamom

½  teaspoons ground pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½  teaspoon ground cloves

½  teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
For Vermont Chili, I had no recipe, so I tried to recreate it. If you can find Bloemer’s Chili Base in your area (Bloemer’s is based in Louisville), use it for seasoning. I order mine online from


Vermont Chili


1.3 pounds lean ground turkey or beef (your choice) or combination turkey/beef

12 oz. frozen diced onions

1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chilies

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 oz. chili powder

1 15.5-oz. can chili beans

1 can or bottle beer, any kind

1 chopped jalapeño (optional)


Brown ground turkey and onion over medium-low heat in a covered 4-quart pan. Gradually add the remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, then cook, uncovered until the liquid reduces and chili is thick. Don’t rush it. This reduction can take from 20-45 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Store leftovers in a covered container or freeze in an airtight bag or container.
Yield: 4–5 servings

 These chili recipes plus many more are included in Hasty Tasty RV Meals by Cheryl Norman ©2012 For more information, visit Also visit Cheryl’s fiction writing site at


Cheryl Norman grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, where she wrote her first mystery at the age of thirteen. She earned a BA in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta. After a career in the telecommunications industry, she returned to fiction writing and won the 2003 EPPIE award for her contemporary romance, Last Resort.  Her debut with Medallion Press, Restore My Heart, led to a mention in Publisher's Weekly as one of ten new romance authors to watch. Running Scared, a romantic suspense set in Jacksonville, Florida, and Washington D.C., received a Perfect 10 from Romance Reviews Today. Reviewer Harriet Klausner calls her writing "Mindful of Linda Howard."

Her latest romantic suspense novel for Medallion is Reclaim My Life, and Cheryl has two novellas in the anthology Romance on Route 66. Rebuild My World, the sequel to Reclaim My Life, was published in 2011 by Turquoise Morning Press.

Cheryl has combined her passion for writing and healthful cooking by publishing four cookbooks (two finalists in the EPIC competition in the self-help category). In addition to writing, Cheryl works with breast cancer survivors to raise awareness about early detection and treatment of the disease. She also helps writers with grammar via her Grammar Cop blog, newsletter articles, and workshops.



Cheryl Norman said...

Thanks, Judy. I love all chili, and Texas chili is wonderful. Can't wait to read your book when it's released.

Anonymous said...

I like the sound of this Vermont chili, too. I'd have to divide the batch in half to put the extra heat in for my boys. My poor tongue can't take it! :)

LD Masterson said...

I live near Cincinnati and I've eaten Cinci chili. I agree with your husband. It might be tasty (and it is) but it's not chili.

Judy Alter said...

LD, guess I'll have to try it. And, yes, Lisanne, my tongue can't take it either. I routinely leave jalapenos out. It's why I call my chili mild and tentative.

Cheryl Norman said...

I used to be a hot-pepper sissy. LOL I now love hot, spicy food but it can't be too hot. I once ate hot mustard at a Chinese restaurant that was ridiculous. I swear it burned my taste buds. Awful stuff!

The great thing about all chili is it can be tasty without the hot chilies.