The Recipe I Was Never Going to Give Away… Halloween Chili.


I’ve been making this chili once a year, on Halloween night, for 14 years. These days I make a giant pot of it and I always think I’ve made way too much and at the end of the evening it’s always gone.  Friends complain on the way out the door that they ate too much.  I always love that.

At least once each Halloween someone asked me for the recipe.  People have called later too.  “Hey Jim, can I get the recipe for your chili?”  Pretty much any other recipe of mine is fair game and many are on here. Not this one. This one was always sacred. Last year though Angela and I decided that with Matthew graduating this year and our own kids grown and gone, we’d let someone with actual young-uns have the party and maybe we’ll go and maybe we’ll stay home and pretend we’re not here.

And of course, that means I can finally publish the recipe. I look forward to your pictures of the times you make it yourselves and would love to hear the stories.

Halloween Chili, Jim’s Chili.  I guess your chili now… enjoy.


  • 4 Tubes Mexican Chorizo, Rendered.  (See below) For those who always asked, this was the secret ingredient.
  • 4-6 Italian Sausages, cases removed
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 4-6 Garlic cloves or 3 TBS minced garlic from the jar
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 4 Cups Hot Water
  • 1 cup raw white rice
  • 2 TBS Sugar (this is another secret ingredient)
  • 2 TBS Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk (Do not substitute with any kind of skim – if you don’t have whole milk leave this out – but this is another secret ingredient)
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil (not EV) or Grapeseed Oil

Garnishes: (I’ve always smiled when people have told me this is their favorite chili.  Of course it is, they have a pile of their favorite things on it. The chili is good, but the garnishes make it great.)

  • 1 Bag of Fritos
  • 1 Recipe Corn Bread (If you want to ruin my chili with your cornbread knock yourself out. Yes, I’m talking to my son Mitch and the Farwells here).
  • 1 LB Shredded Sharp Cheddar (or whatever kind of cheese you like on your chili).
  • 1 can sliced black olives (See note on cornbread above).
  • 1 can diced green chiles. (These are essential. A purest won’t eat my chili without them).
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped – green portion only
  • 3-4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2-7 Avocados (because – come on, can you ever have too many avocados?) Diced (do this at the last minute so you don’t serve brown avocados to your guests).
  • Sour Cream
  • Frank’s, Tabasco or other Hot Sauce


Render the Chorizo in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes and strain it to drain the grease.  The tubes of Mexican Chorizo they sell in the grocery store are about 40% fat. You don’t want the fat in the chili.  Reserve chorizo in a large mixing bowl. Don’t worry about cleaning out the pan.  Place the sausage in the pan and continuously mash with a potato masher while you brown and render the sausage. (Rendering is just cooking the fat out of the meat). Strain the sausage (The best way to strain these things is to put the strainer into a large mixing bowl and use the bowl to catch the fat. You don’t want the fat going down the drain.  When the fat has cooled, pour it into paper cups, put lids on them and put them in your garbage.) Place the sausage in the same bowl as the chorizo.  Finally, render the ground beef and add a healthy pinch of salt and a few turns of your pepper grinder while it’s browning. Strain the ground beef and add it to the bowl with the chorizo and the sausage.

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add about 2 TBS of oil and the onions and another healthy pinch of salt.  Saute’ over medium heat for 6-7 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute or so. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste to the pot and stir until it starts to boil. Add sugar, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and stir into the mixture. Add the meat back from the bowl and stir to combine. Add the rice and the hot water and stir well to combine. Stir occasionally to keep the rice from burning on the bottom of the pot and when it starts to bubble vigorously, turn the heat down to a simmer and add the milk and let the chili fill your house with yummy smells. (Whole milk contains enzymes that tenderize meat and that’s why the meat in my chili – and my bolognese – is always so velvety).

Assemble the garnishes in separate bowls and watch the concoctions your guests make with your chili. Turn your nose up at anyone who uses cornbread.

Enjoy. And thanks for so many happy memories.



3 thoughts on “The Recipe I Was Never Going to Give Away… Halloween Chili.

  1. Thanks for the recipe Jim!
    Hey do, you also have the recipe for the corn casserole with the green chiles that has been served along with your chili? I would love to have that too!
    Pam Hunt

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