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The other evening as I came in from walking my dog I was eager to put the damp and chill behind me and tuck into something that would warm the old belly. As luck would have it, Vickie had just whipped up a big pot of turkey chili, so all was right with the world. Chef Jerry Pellegrino thinks we have reason to believe that every household across America has its own special recipe for this oh-so-satisfying dish.

Legend has it that the dish we know as chili was created by cowboys sitting around their campfires. They always had beef with them and they always had a bag of spices. So they put it all into a pot, added some water and let it cook for a couple hours until the meat got tender. No beans, no onions, no tomatoes. Very straight forward, and today in Texas they will still tell you its the only way to go.


Of course chili has expanded its meaning to include just about any spicy stew simmered for hours. The principal protein may very. Beans, of any variety, may be added. Onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes may be tossed in. And of course there is the entire macho aspect of how hot can you make it.


Jerry has accumulated a number of recipes for you to try.

The Recipes

Texas Red


1 lb beef cubes

2 Tablespoons paprika

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 large shallot, roughly chopped

5 sprigs or oregano

4 mild dried chilies

2 small dried hot chilies

2 Tablespoons lard or corn oil

2 Tablespoons flour

Roll the beef cubes in the flour In a large saucepan set over medium high heat, warm the lard or oil until just smoking. Add the meat and brown. Add the shallot and continue to cook, stirring so the beef doesn’t burn, for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cover with water. Allow the chili to come to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and hot sauce and serve.


Pressure Cooker Texas Chili



3 – 4 dried hot chilies 

4 large dried Chipotle chilies, soaked in 2 cups hot water until soft

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

1 quart chicken stock 

4 pounds boneless beef short rib, cut into 4 equal size steaks

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

3 tablespoons olive oil 

1 large onion, finely chopped

6 medium cloves garlic, minced 

Pressure Cooker Chili cont’d

½ teaspoon powdered cinnamon 

1 tablespoon ground cumin 

1 tablespoon dark chili powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano 

Hot sauce, to taste 

Cilantro, chopped onions, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese for serving

Once the chipotles are soft, remove from the water and reserve it. Pull off the stems and chop the peppers into ¼ inch dice.

Season the short rib generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in the pressure cooker set over medium high heat. One at a time, cook the short rib without moving until deeply browned. Flip and brown the other side. Repeat with the three other short ribs. When all the meat has been browned, cut it into 1 inch cubes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pressure cooker. Allow the onions to cook until translucent. As they sweat of moisture, use that to scrap all of the brown meat particles left off of the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add the garlic, hot chilies, jalapeno and the chopped chipotles. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add all the dried spices. Cook one more minute. Add the cubed meat, chicken stock and reserved water from the chipotles. Seal the pressure cooker, and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. 

Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions. We like to thicken the chili with a little roux but some people like it a little thinner. Check the seasoning and adjust using salt and hot sauce. Serve over rice or cornbread with all the garnishes.

Mushroom chili


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Mushroom Chili cont’d

1 1/2 pounds Portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 (28 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes

1 (19 ounce) can red kidney beans

salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onions until tender. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix the mushrooms into the skillet, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, 10 minutes, or until tender. Pour the tomatoes and beans into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 40 minutes.


Three-Alarm Chili Con Carne




1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 lb yellow onions coarsely chopped

5 lb ground beef

1 12 oz can tomato paste

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/3 cup ground cumin

4 tbsp chili powder

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tbsp dried basil

2 tbsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tbsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

3 28 oz cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained

4 tbsp chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a very large pot. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the ground beef, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring until it's well browned. Spoon off as much excess fat as you can and discard. 

Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, cumin, chili powder, mustard, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. 

Add the tomatoes and parsley. Stir well and simmer, uncovered, for another 15-20 minutes. 

Taste and adjust seasonings. 

Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of grated cheddar and spring onions and garnish with fresh cilantro. 


Chicken Chili



4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)

1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken

1/8 cup minced garlic (2 cloves)

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced

2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken

2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained

1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves

2 lbs ground chicken

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add the ground chicken and cook until the chicken starts to brown. Crush the tomatoes by hand and add to the pot with the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Three Bean Chili


2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped

1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped

1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped

1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

1 cup pale beer or vegetable stock/broth

1 (32- ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (14-ounce) can black beans

1 (14-ounce) can dark red kidney beans

1 (14-ounce) can pinto beans

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cayenne hot pepper sauce, several drops

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup spicy vegetarian refried beans

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Ass all the beans and again, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Corn Bread


2 ½ cups coarse yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

5 tablespoons fresh lard, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 ½ cups whole milk with 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar added to it



Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside.

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Combine 4 tablespoons of the lard, the egg and the buttermilk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth.

Move the skillet from the oven to the stove top, over high heat. Add the remaining lard to the pan and swirl to coat. Pour in the batter; it should sizzle vigorously. Shake the skillet to distribute it evenly. Cook 15 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.