Cooking Up a Hooley in the Kitchen

Cooking Up A Hooley In The Kitchen
By Katie Gagne

~~ Chili for a Crowd  ~~

It’s wonderful how recipes can evolve over time. We always loved my mom’s chili; it was really simple, not too exotic or spicy. Then one day we tasted the chili made by a neighbor. He sautéed the onions and peppers with lots of chopped garlic and he seasoned all the components – the ground meat and the tomatoes. It was so good.

So, my mom started making her chili in a similar way, and it really was delicious. Both my sister, Meghan and I made our chili like that when we grew up. After my sister married, her husband Matt liked kielbasa or smoked sausage along with the ground beef in his chili. She began making hers with it all the time. Eventually she added pieces of round sirloin steak to it as well. It became quite a meaty dish.

My love of spices and hot peppers added to the ever-evolving recipe and Voila! What we have is a true amalgamation of the perfect dish.


2 lbs. 80/20 Ground Beef

2 lbs. Round Steak – cubed

2 packages Kielbasa or Smoked Sausage — cubed

1 bunch of Celery – chopped

3 Sweet Red Peppers – chopped

3 Green Peppers – chopped

2 Yellow or Orange Sweet Peppers – chopped

2 Jalapeno Peppers – chopped

2 Poblano Peppers – chopped  (optional)

1 Hot Banana Pepper – chopped (optional)

2-3 Small Hot Peppers – Serranoes, Cayennes (optional)

6 Cloves Garlic minced

2 Medium Yellow Onions — chopped

36 ounces Canned Diced Tomatoes

10 ounces Canned Stewed Tomatoes

2 cans Condensed Tomato Soup

1 can Water  (use the tomato soup can)

6 ounces Tomato Paste

2 Cans Chili Beans

3 Tablespoons Black Pepper

3 Tablespoons Salt

3 Tablespoons Hot Chili Powder

2 Tablespoons Cumin

Additional Toppings:

Sour Cream

Cheddar Cheese

Green Onions or Chives

Oyster or Goldfish Crackers

Then: Sauté the ground beef with a splash of olive oil and season liberally with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder.

Sauté round steak and kielbasa until slightly browned in olive oil, seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder.

Drain all meat and put in large bowl and set aside.

In a large soup pot, sauté all chopped veggies and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until soft and tender. Season these with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder to taste.

Add in diced and stewed tomatoes, tomato soup, water, and tomato paste.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add in the meat and stir.

Simmer for 1-2 hours.

Add in 1 -2 cans of your favorite beans (optional)

Continue using the spices to season to taste.

Simmer until ready to eat.

You can make this as mild or as spicy as you wish by adding or subtracting the peppers and spices. You can include the beans or leave them out like I do.

I love mine topped with shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of green onions or chives and some oyster crackers or goldfish crackers tossed on top.

Serve with your favorite corn bread, topped with some honey butter and enjoy!


*Katie Gagne teaches English at Trinity High School in Garfield Heights. She is also the owner of her in-home bakery Sassy’s Sweets and Oh So Much More. You can contact her at (440) 773-4459 or at [email protected].

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