Big-Ass Pot of Chili

Friday, January 29, 2010
Big-Ass Pot of Chili

Big-Ass Pot of Chili

2 pounds of bacon, 4 pounds of sausage, 6 pounds of ground beef…and that’s only the beginning.

Meat mania

Meat mania

This recipe may seem excessive, but by the time this massive pot of chili is done cooking, and certainly by the time you’ve gone through the last of it, you always want just a little bit more.

It really is that good. It’s not like some chili which sits in your stomach like a ton of bricks. It’s not too beany, or too spicy, or too smoky. It’s complex, with a sweet savory tang, and layers of meaty flavor throughout. For me, it’s the sweetness that makes this chili special. A multi-dimensional sweetness derived from a number of ingredients: carrots (grated so that they melt into the sauce), ketchup, barbecue sauce, sugar, and baker’s chocolate.

That’s Secret #1.

The Makings of the Best Chili Ever

The Makings of the Best Chili Ever

Secret #2 is adding a parmesan rind to the pot. This is an old Italian trick I learned for creating rich soups, stocks, tomato sauce, or…chili! Remember it next time you finish off an expensive wedge of parmigiano. After you’re done digging away at all the edible parts, pop the rind in a freezer bag and save it for a rainy (or shall I say chili, ha ha ha) day.

Secret #3: let it simmer for a long long time. This is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day, or the day after that. I kid you not, I let this simmer for 6 hours or more. I will usually make it late afternoon on a weekend, let it cook all evening, and then turn off the flame and cover it right before going to bed. The next day, the flavors will have melded together into something amazing.

There may be a few lingering doubts in your mind about why not to make this recipe. One being the long list of ingredients, to which I say, okay, there are a lot of ingredients, and yes, you will need to make a Costco run, but after that it’s really easy. You basically just add everything to a big pot and leave it alone. Fool proof. And worth it.

The other question may concern the alarming quantity this recipe makes. Feeds 20+. Yes, it does! But really, you’ll be surprised at how quickly this goes, and I mean, if you’re going to make all that effort in getting the ingredients, you might as well go the whole nine yards. If you’re still on the fence, consider these scenarios where a massive pot of chili makes perfect sense:

  • Game Day with lots of men to feed. Isn’t the Super Bowl coming up or something?
  • Ski weekend. This is the perfect make-ahead meal. All you have to do is heat it up on the stove, which is the maximum effort I usually have in me after a day on the slopes, when my quads have turned to lead.
  • Any weekend. Especially when it is relentlessly rainy and cold outside. (You may know what I mean). Extra bonus, this recipe freezes really well. Store away single/double servings of this and have a warm, satisfying, homemade meal ready in minutes any time.

Now that you’re ready for chili, the next challenge is to find a pot that is sufficiently massive. You’re on your own for that one. Alright, I’ll give you a hint: I scored mine off of Craigslist from a restaurant going out of business. For something this size, go commercial.

Best Chili Ever

Best Chili Ever

Big-Ass Pot of Chili

Adapted from Steve Conn and Colerain Firefighters Local 3915’s “Major Cojone’s Chili.” I guess it makes sense that the original recipe would come from a fire house :) I doubled the Major’s recipe, made some tweaks to the heat source, and added some sweet secret ingredients.

Yield: 4 gallons (20+ servings)

2 pounds applewood-smoked bacon, diced into 1 inch squares
4 pounds spicy Italian pork sausage, removed from casings
6 pounds ground beef
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
3 red bell peppers, chopped
4 large onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, grated
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cans (28 oz each) chili beans
6 lb 10 oz crushed tomatoes
6 lb 10 oz tomato sauce
2 cups ketchup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
½ cup BBQ sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons red chili powder
2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
2 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate
1 parmesan rind

1. In a large pan, cook bacon until crispy; drain and add to a 5-gallon pot.

2. Drain off the bacon grease. Brown the sausage in the same pan; drain and add to the pot.

3. Drain off the fat from the pan again. Brown the ground beef; drain and add to the pot with the other meats.

4. Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a bubble, stirring periodically. Then, lower heat and simmer on low for at least 6 hours.

5. Serve with chili toppings if you’d like (shredded cheese, sour cream, green onion or chives), Frito scoops, quesadillas, or bread bowl.

Print Recipe

This post was published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on January 27, 2010. It was also featured in SF Weekly’s SFoodie.

Stumble It!
Posted by Stephanie at 2:04 am

51 Responses to “Big-Ass Pot of Chili”

  1. Bob says:

    Holy crap, that is a huge pot of chili. Looks awesome though, I’m intrigued by the parm rind.

  2. Wow that is one big pot of chili! I guess it ’tis the seaon for nachos and chili (and magical tooting). I do love putting parmesean rinds in soup. I learned it from an Italian cookbook a while back. However, the chocolate is what’s got me all a flutter. I bet THAT is delicious.

  3. Rose says:

    MMMMMMMMMMMM Heck yes that is a big ass bowl of chili! YUM! Love it! Looks insanely good. Albeit, I am starving, but STILL! Nice job!

  4. S Lloyd says:

    I tried your recipe earlier today and it turned out great. I am one who loves working out the taste of a dish, and I had lots of fun with that. My wife kept yelling at me “when is this going to be ready!!”…lol. This was a great lab to show my young daughter how taste in a dish can be worked out extensively.

  5. Chocolate is a great trick. I a pinch I’ve used Reeses Peanut Butter cups. Its not as strange as it may sound considering the ingredients in Mole sauce

  6. Jim A says:

    Holy Jesus, this looks good right now.  You should do crock pot BBQ pulled pork w/ potato rolls at some point.  There, it’s officially in as a suggestion.  

  7. James says:

    I must say, the sheer quantity of meats makes my mouth water. I may have to do it just for the bragging rights.

  8. Dora Man says:

    Dear Stephanie: Wow! the chili looks very yummy. I am going to ask Uncle Paul to make it for me. His chili has got champion award in his company for two years in a roll, but I want to try yours and compare. Also, your other recipes look wonderful. I will have Uncle Paul made them for me as well. I enjoy your site very much!
    Aunt Dora

  9. Tara says:

    Mmmmm this is simmering on the stove as I type and I cannot wait to eat it! I used a little cocoa powder as I didn’t have bakers chocolate, so hopefully that will work.

  10. Tara says:

    Sorry, forgot to post back! This was so good it is now our go to chili recipe! The cocoa powder worked fine! Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!!!

  11. [...] Big Ass Pot of Chili — 2 pounds of bacon, 4 pounds of sausage, 6 pounds of ground beef…sometimes excess is good. [...]

  12. [...] work so you don’t have to. Less time worrying about food, more time making sparkle shoes.DINNERS:Big-Ass Pot of Chili and Cornbread MuffinsChicken & Sausage Dirty JambalayaIndian TakeoutLUNCHES:Gazpacho and [...]

  13. Erica Mierop says:

    At what point do you fish out the Parm rind? You didn’t say anything about that but I’m assuming you do take it out. I have a block of Parm but it doesn’t have a rind on it, can I just add a chunk of that instead?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Erica,

      As I’m serving, I usually just scoop around until I hit the rind, then discard it.
      If you’re using a block of parm, I wouldn’t waste it by throwing it in whole. Instead, grate about 1/2 cup and throw it in. Enjoy!

  14. [...] utensils, that’s a plus.Here are some dishes that will score on game day. Perfect Football Food:Best Chili Ever. This recipe makes a ton of chili. (Don’t be scared by the 12 pounds of meat involved). You could [...]

  15. Courtney says:

    I am curious, what size pot do you use? I’m looking to invest in a new pot, but I’d like to make sure it’s large enough and this seems to be one of the larger recipes I would like to make but don’t have a big enough pot yet.

  16. Michele says:

    I know typically to cut this recipe in 1/2 to make a smaller version you would cut the ingred. in 1/2 but what do you suggest more or less of.

  17. Lawton says:


    I’ve simmered it, covered the pot and will put it in the fridge in the morning. I have to admit, with all the pallet friendly ingredients I have been tasting this chili as it melds in the pot and every hour the ingredients come together more and more. Again, simmered, cooling overnight, fridge in the morning. Dinner tomorrow night. This is one superb recipe for chili and will be my new go to from now on. Thanks! 

  18. Roger says:

    Want to try your chili recipe, on the chili beans is it 28 oz. total . And the tomatoes and sause what is total oz of each.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Roger,
      The Chili beans is 4 cans of beans (28oz per can), so that is a total of 7 pounds of chili beans.
      Total crushed tomatoes = 6 lb 10 oz
      Total tomato sauce = 6 lb 10 oz

      Happy Chili-making!

  19. [...] famous Big Ass Pot of Chili (2 lbs bacon, 4 lbs sausage, 6 lbs ground beef) yeah, this feeds a happy [...]

  20. Taylor says:

    I am going to make chili for a Firefighter chili cook off….. your recipe looks amazing!  how much should I multiply these ingredients to get about 12-15 gallons of chili?!

    • Stephanie says:

      Awesome! Let me know how it goes! If I were to guess…I’d multiply by 4 or 5…but to be safe, try making 1 batch and see for yourself. Good luck!

  21. Taylor says:

    So I ended up making about 15 gallons of the chili for the firefighter chili cookoff. It was a really easy recipe for that quantity. I didn’t have brown sugar and ended up using white sugar. I only used half the amount of sugar it called for and it was still a little too sweet for some people, but most people loved it!
    Stephanie, can you specify if brown sugar is the right call (dark or light)?

  22. Jeanette says:

    We make chili often here in southeast Louisiana. I make mine without beans because it’s mostly to put on hotdogs or Corn Chips. But, this sounds fabulous. I was sold when I read you add chocolate! I don’t know about the jalapeno, but then it’s only one, removing seeds, and finely chopped. I guess I could brave that! My husband will love this!!!

    • Stephanie says:

      Oh, yeah, the chocolate is one of the best secret ingredients :)
      The jalapeno is totally optional. Make it as spicy or mild to suite your taste! My husband always adds Sriracha chili sauce to his bowl.

  23. Dean-o says:

    I need to make 4 gallons of chili for a function. Any idea how many gallons that makes?

  24. Laureen Aadland says:

    Sounds interesting but can’t get past the ketchup and barq sauce or that much  sugar would really like to taste but not bad enough to use that much money for the ingredients

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Laureen,
      This recipe is pretty forgiving — and yes, the quantity here is a commitment. You can scale it down by halving everything. As for the ketchup, BBQ, and sugar, try adding a little at a time to your taste (or omit all together!). I’m a firm believer in seasoning to your own tastes. This is how I like it :)

    • Christine says:

      I will be making this today for the 4th time ! Today I will be making it for the football game. So you know this is my go to chili receipe. The only change I make is to use regular bulk sausage in place if italian, which I feel gives it too much of a spaghetti sauce flavor, but thank you for posting. You have given alll my brother’s blue ribbon receipes a run for thier money!

  25. Dale says:

    Great recipe! I made this today for a church group, we renamed it Balaam’s Big Ass Pot of Chili, befitting the setting. I added a can of anchovies to the mix, I like the umami flavor as it just dissolves.  I also used some Mexican chocolate.  I get mine from, they have a guajillo chocolate that is just ideal for this recipe.  Thanks for sharing, this goes in my keep file for sure 

  26. SMarkle says:

    what is Sriracha chili sauce?

  27. steve says:

    For the 8 cloves of garlic. Would you use minced garlic? If yes, how much of it (table spoon, 1/4 cup, etc)

Leave a Reply