Ken’s Secret Chili

I married Ken for his heart and his mind, sure, but a close third was his chili recipe. For chili or for worse, I say, and listen, it is just not every day a guy wrecks the kitchen to make 85 quarts of chili and then cleans up after himself. Who is this man? Where did he even come from?

It goes like this. I come home from the store with five cans of diced tomatoes, four pounds of ground beef, three pints of beef broth, two onions.

Chili? I ask, and the ask is more of a beg, more of a quiet, seeping desperation for a bowl that tastes like my mother’s kitchen and day trips to Cincinnati with my grandparents – to the bowling alley! to putt!putt! to Skyline if we’ve got a coupon!

He smiles, and agrees, and then reminds me that I’ve brought home beef broth instead of beef stock, and when you’re back at the store could you grab some more bay leaves?

And so Bee and I put our boots back on and head to the store for the missing ingredients, random texts trickling in as we walk the aisles. “More cumin, please!” “Garlic!!!!!!” “Where’s the cocoa powder?” and then “NM, found it!”

By the time the ingredients are procured, it’s dark. Bee and I brush our teeth, read about Jonah, switch to warmer socks, turn out the lights. And when we wake up the next morning, the kitchen is gleaming and there’s a 4 quart stockpot of ready-made chili in the fridge.

It’s love, that’s my only word for it. Love, love, love.

Ken’s recipe is a secret to all of us, but I have it on good authority that this one’s similar.  Just in case you want to bless your spouse, bless your neighbor, bless your teenager, bless your mother – there is no one that does not love this chili.

And in our house, there is no one that does not love-love-love its maker.

  • In our house I come home to freshly made soft pretzels from scratch or fresh pasta from scratch, drying on a rack on our counters.

    I am pretty sure I know how lucky I am, and how lucky our daughter is to have him as a daddy, but it never hurts to say it again.

  • Chili is my husband’s specialty too :). I’m especially happy when he offers to fix it when we are having guests– a very loving, helpful gesture. Because, usually, I am running around frantically trying to pick up stray toys and wipe down the bathroom sink. And we have yet to meet the person who doesn’t enjoy a bowl of chili and the fixings.

    I’m certain cocoa doesn’t make it into our pot. Very intriguing. Excited to check out the recipe you link to!!

    • Right?! My rule is that I don’t cook for guests, unless it’s something that can’t be ruined if burned (bacon for breakfast, for example). I’m a terrible multi-tasker in the kitchen. ;) And yes – cocoa makes a big difference; you’ll love it!

  • Your writing is such a gift. You are a gift. Thank you so much for sharing your gift (and recipes :-) with us!

  • What a tease you are! I was so hoping for his actual recipe after reading that title. ;-) Will have to give the look-alike a try. Hubbies who cook and clean up are indeed the best!

  • Mmmm chili sounds delicious today. My hubby just likes to experiment in the kitchen… rarely a recipe. When we are in college he did all the cooking. …maybe it will happen again someday.

    • Ha, we’ve had our seasons of that, as well. Ken used to cook exclusively, and now I do. Long-term balance, I suppose!

  • I love your writing // photographs // blog in general. And yes, I’ll be making that chilli recipe.

  • I love chili, it’s such an American thing too. I never realized that until I moved. I’m the only one that will eat it, but I still cook it all the time. My recipe is also a lot like this too. You should tell him to use some fire roasted tomatoes, it makes such an amazing difference.

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