Red Hen’s 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off

On November 18th we held our 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off at the Ruskin Art Club.  This saucy afternoon of chili and poetry included readings by Eric Morago, Laurel Ann Bogen, Charles Harper Webb, and Jessica Patapoff (making her Red Hen reading debut)!   A great time was had by all and hopefully this will be a new tradition for years to come.

And the winner is…?

Awarding-winning chili chef Ashley Ellis. She’s got a secret and she’s not telling!

Red Hen staffer Ashley triumphed with her mother’s super secret pork sausage chili recipe.  We tried to get her to spill the beans, but apparently this one is staying in the vault!  Let’s just say her concoction is the perfect antidote to the fall weather and reason enough to mark next year’s event on your calendar. Her prize? Two tickets to the Rose Parade.

While the winning recipe remains lost to history, we have recipes from two of the three other contestants. First up is Red Hen alum Christina Kharbertyan‘s vegan chili recipe, followed by Red Hen Publisher Mark E. Cull’s “darn good chili” recipe. Enjoy!


Christina’s Vegan Chili Recipe

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 green bell pepper
1 package of baby portobello mushrooms
½ medium onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons taco seasoning (McCormick is preferred)
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 chipotle peppers from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 cans black beans
2 cans great northern beans
1 can corn
½ cup corn meal


1. Chop carrots, celery, onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms into a small dice. In a large, heavy pot,
heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add veggies and cook for 4 minutes. Then add the minced
garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the seasoning and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
2. Add the tomato sauce, vegetable stock, and tomato paste and stir until combined. Remove
chipotle peppers from the can, cut down the middle, and remove seeds. For a spicier chili, leave
seeds in. Chop peppers until a paste is formed. Add peppers to the pot along with the beans and
corn. Bring chili to a boil.
3. To thicken the chili, pour 1/2 cup of the chili liquid in a bowl. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of cornmeal.
When the cornmeal is integrated, the water will appear cloudy. Stir the cornmeal mixture back
into the chili. Simmer the chili for 5 minutes. If the chili is still not adequately thickened, repeat
the process of adding cornmeal and simmer for 5 more minutes. You will probably not have to
use the entire ½ cup of cornmeal suggested in the ingredients list.
4. Bring the chili to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes,
stirring occasionally.
5. Serve with crackers, avocado, cheese or sour cream.


Feel like making something a little more free-form?  Impressionistic perhaps?  Here is Publisher Mark Cull’s recipe for darn good chili:

 Darn Good Chili

6 cups red kidney beans
2 cups black beans
8 cups crushed Roma tomatoes
2 cups chopped and roasted pasilla chiles
1 cup chopped Anaheim chiles
2 cups red chili powder
2 cups chopped brown onion, sauteed in olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon coriander
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon powdered sage
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 cup molasses


1. Mix all ingredients in a large stock pot and simmer until tasty.
2. Enjoy!






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