Meet the bean queen

Meet the bean queen

Everyone wins at chili cook-off

By Andrea Chaffin


London City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lou Kramer enjoys a good chili-belly laugh. Also serving as judges were Marvin Homan, president of the London City Schools Board of Education, Annie Hamilton and Andrea Chaffin, food editor of Salt magazine.

Judges had to choose a winner from five different chilis, among them a White Chicken Chili, at right.

Chili cook-off judges received gift bags which included a carton of milk, Tums, mints and chocolates.

The chili cook-off inspired this Ohio River favorite: Cincinnati-style chili.

Salt’s food editor, Andrea Chaffin, takes the judging very seriously.

London City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lou Kramer presents sixth grade reading/language arts teacher Cathy Shannon with the winning ladle.

LONDON — Cathy Shannon is not above bribery.

The sixth-grade reading/language art teacher at London Middle School in Madison County whole-heartedly greeted the judges when they arrived to judge the PTO’s annual chili cook-off.

“Good afternoon,” Cathy said, shaking each judge’s hand — including mine. She left a carefully folded $1 bill in my palm, and was sure to mention there were Cheryl’s Cookies to accompany her chili.

But it was her cooking — and not her persuasion — which won her the blue ribbon during the contest.

Cathy let out a war whoop and jumped out of her seat when her name was called as the winner.

“I told you bribery worked,” she joked to her peers.

Superintendent Dr. Lou Kramer, who served as one of four judges, said he “could neither confirm nor deny” the allegations, but promised to enter the contest himself next year.

I will also plead the fifth.

Kramer presented Cathy with the prize package: a soup ladle and, most importantly, bragging rights.

This has become an annual event to help bolster spirits at the beginning of another school year, said PTO representative Valerie Peart.

Cathy said this is the second time she has won. This year she entered “Seasonal Cauldron Splendor” — a name suggested by her mother.

Rumor is that the chili was nearly named “Silver Bullet,” thanks to a can of Coors Light which “may or may not” have made its way into the pot.

Cathy said the key to winning is “to wing it.”

Second place went to the seventh-grade team, “7th Heaven Chili,” by intervention specialist Julie McFarland; third place went to the eighth-grade team, chili by paraprofessional Heather Williams.

Personally, I’m still thinking about that white chili. (I may have just revealed my vote.)

The chili contest made me want to put together my favorite chili: Cincinnati-style. You’ll never see me eat this chili out of a bowl. It needs served with spaghetti, cheese and onions, or on top of a hot dog. And with oyster crackers with hot sauce. I like to pierce each oyster cracker and create a hole. Then, add a couple drops to the cracker cavern.

Sometimes, I even add the crackers into the chili-spaghetti-cheese concoction.

Folks either love it or hate it. I’m on the love side.

But there’s a chili in this list for everyone to love. Try them all!


Seasonal Cauldron of Splendor

By Cathy Shannon


1 pound Italian sausage

1 pound ground beef

1 whole medium red onion, chopped

One-half red bell pepper, chopped

One-half green bell pepper, chopped

Carrots, chopped

2 cans of tomato juice (the big, big cans!)

1 can black beans

1 can light red kidney beans

1 can dark red kidney beans

1 can corn

One-half poblano pepper, chopped

4 tablespoons chili powder

1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground garlic

4 tablespoon brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Measurements are approximate.


Brown the beef and sausage together in olive oil. Add chopped onion, bell pepper and carrot and cook together for about 5 minutes — long enough to at least start softening the onion, pepper and carrot.

Add the tomato juice and all the other cans, then add everything else.

Cook on medium for about 1 hour uncovered, and then 1 more hour covered on low.


Cincinnati Chili

By Andrea Chaffin


1 quart cold water

2 pounds lean ground beef

2 cups crushed canned tomatoes

2 yellow onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup chili powder

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 whole bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt


Combine beef and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil. Continue at a low boil until beef is thoroughly cooked.

Add in the remaining ingredients. Simmer on low, uncovered, for about 3 hours. Add water as needed if the chili becomes too thick. (I did several times, about one half-cup at a time.)

When ready to serve, follow the code for Cincy-style chili:

1-way: Just the chili

2-way: Chili served over spaghetti

3-way: Chili, spaghetti, and grated cheddar cheese

4-way: Chili, spaghetti, cheese and onions

5-way: Chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions and beans

All “ways” are served with oyster crackers and hot sauce.


Creamy White Chicken Chili

By Heather Williams


1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into half-inch cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 15.5-ounce cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth

2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


In a large saucepan, saute the chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Stir in sour cream and cream.


Winter’s Coming Chili

By Kim Hayes


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, diced

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

8 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 4-ounce can tomato paste

1 12-ounce bottle of beer

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed


Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and peppers and saute until soft, about 4 minutes.

Add the garlic and saute until just fragrant. Stir in the beef and sausage, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, and cook until browned, about 6 minutes.

Drain the beef mixture through a colander. Add it back to the Dutch oven and stir in the chili powder, cumin and oregano. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Stir the tomato paste into the beef mixture; this will “toast” it and give the chili more flavor.

Add the beer and stir up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, and then add the diced tomatoes and beans.

Simmer on medium-low for 2 hours, stirring on occasion to keep the bottom from sticking.

Top with shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped green onions before serving.


7th Heaven Chili

By Julie McFarland


1 pound sausage

1 onion, diced

3 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 15-ounce can light red kidney beans

1 cup water

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes


In a large saucepan over medium heat, crumble and cook sausage and onion until sausage is brown. Add chili powder, cumin and garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir well.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes to blend flavors.


Jason’s Revenge

By Sherri Jones


2 cans tomato juice

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons hot sauce

1 can of your favorite beer

15 Roma tomatoes

3 cans of light and dark kidney beans

1/2 onion, chopped

3 teaspoons chili powder

Salt and pepper to taste


Saute all beef and peppers and onion in skillet until tender. Add in remaining ingredients and simmer.



Andrea is the food editor of Salt magazine. An OSU graduate, she enjoys singing in the car, photography and spending time with her two fur kids. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @andeewrites.

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