Big Joe's Big Game Chili

There’s not a cook or weekend chef who loves beer, America, and football who doesn’t make a decent chili. There is nothing like a great football game and it's even better with a bowl of chili. Here is one of my favorite easy recipes that I like to whip up before watching the game or any day that you’re hanging out.

I personally like the chunks of a good sirloin steak rather than the loose ground beef in my chili, so pick your favorites, add more liquid or more tomato paste which will make your chili thinner, or nice and thick the way I like it!

Hint, great chili is like fine wine; it gets better with age. If possible, make it a day or two or even three before you want to serve it. The longer you wait the better the blend of spices and the better the taste.

You'll need:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
2 cups medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons minced or pressed garlic (approx. 6 medium cloves)
¼ cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 dash cinnamon
freshly ground pepper to taste (I like lots!)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 ½ pounds 85 percent lean ground beef (or 3 lbs. of sliced sirloin steak in chunks)
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 can (28 oz.) tomato puree
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste (yes, again!)
½ cup chicken broth (only if chili starts to stick to the bottom of pan)

How to put it together:

Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive Dutch oven over medium heat until simmering but not smoking, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, cinnamon, freshly ground pepper and cayenne.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add beef if you are using sirloin chunks. Add all the beef at this time cooking until seared on the outside all the way around. If you are using ground beef then add half the amount breaking it up with a wooden spoon until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Do the same for remaining half (just easier in stages).

Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally. If chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth and continue to simmer until beef is tender and chili is rich and dark.

Adjust seasoning for your taste.Slow Cooker Option: At the end of step 1, transfer the cooked beef mixture to a slow cooker; add the rest of ingredients as directed in step 2. Cook the chili on the high setting for four hours.

I like to top with shredded Colby cheese, chopped Vidalia onions, chopped jalapenos and of course, sour cream. Wash it down with a cold beer but don’t forget to chill the glass!

Gellman Images

Mama Connie's Bourbon Hot Dogs

Many years ago when I was working for another radio station here in New Jersey, this local musician shows up in my studio. He just wanted to stop by to say hello and plug a few of his area gigs as well as tell me how much he liked the show. He was a pleasant guy. I had never heard of him so I checked him out at one of his gigs. I was hooked and have been stalking him ever since!

His name is Pat Guadagno. He has one of the best singing voices and man, can he play the guitar! Pat really is a savant when it comes to his knowledge of music. It’s truly a tremendous gift. He’s a human jukebox! More importantly, he is a great friend.

A group of us vacation every once in a while and one of my favorite times was sitting on the porch with Pat, listening to music, having a couple of cold ones, smoking cigars and solving the world’s problems. Pat Guadagno can do it all.

This recipe is from Pat’s mom, Connie and it’s a great appetizer. She was a good woman who raised a terrific family. Pat made these dogs and brought them over to a party at my house and boy are they great! I love them, you will too! Thanks, Pat, for all the phenomenal music and for your friendship.

1 cup bourbon

12-ounce bottle Heinz Chili Sauce

1 cup brown sugar

3 packs of Best Hot Dogs, cut into 1/3 bite-size pieces

Warm first 3 ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add hot dogs. Mix together so they are evenly coated in sauce. Put in preheated oven at 325 degrees uncovered for 2 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally. Serve with toothpicks .