Traditional or Exotic, Chili Is a Sure Winner

What's a crowd-pleaser for hungry football fans this Super Bowl Sunday?

SUPER Bowl Sunday may come but once a year for football fans, but super bowl time at my house is any day I serve a steaming bowl of spicy, hearty chili. Everyone scores with this dish, and the only pass that's intercepted is when someone grabs the hot buttered corn bread out of turn. Touchdown!

It may be sacrilegious to all you Texans out there, but one of my favorite chili dishes is devoid of beef, and, (even worse) contains seafood! Yipes! Flag on that play!

Now I admit that seafood chili sounds like something of a non sequitur, but I came up with this recipe about 10 years ago when I hosted a chili competition at my house. I asked about15 friends to come up with a small portion of their favorite chili. We would do a tasting and mark a secret ballot.

One was covered with an oil slick that rivaled the spill from the Torrey Canyon. It was quickly eliminated. The winning recipe was made by a couple from, understandably, Texas. And mine, I have to admit, was disqualified as being a chowder! Undaunted, I am including it anyway. You be the judge.

Herewith is my seafood chili. To serve this in Texas, or any major beef-producing state, might be life-threatening, I suspect. (A major meat chili recipe, based, as far as I can remember, on the winning dish, follows.)

Don't be intimidated by the number of fish in this recipe. Feel free to use any varieties of white fish such as cod, snapper, monkfish, haddock, swordfish, etc. Some type of shellfish should be included to make the dish more interesting. I've made this dish using just mako shark and mussels.

The quality of fish is most important. Be imaginative and daring, and it will turn out fine.

Another thing that adds interest, especially to meat chili dishes, is a variety of toppings such as chopped avocado, jalapeno peppers, sour cream or yogurt, crumbled bacon, roasted peanuts, olives, and your favorite cheeses and salsas.


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, chopped

2 cups bottled clam juice

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup water

Whole rind of one orange (optional)

2 teaspoons salt

Ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1 pound mako shark, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 pound sea scallops

1 pound large shrimp, shelled, deveined

1 pound mussels or littleneck clams, scrubbed (and debearded if using mussels)

Cooked white rice

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Chopped scallions for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in large, heavy casserole. Add onion and celery and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add garlic and saute an additional 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, clam juice, chopped peppers, lemon juice, water, orange rind, salt, pepper, and remaining spices. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 1 hour.

Taste and adjust seasonings, if you wish.

Return to boil and add mako shark (or other white fish). Simmer a few minutes before adding scallops. Simmer additional few minutes, then add shrimp and shellfish. Remove orange rind. Cover, bring to a boil. When shellfish open (about 5 to 10 minutes), chili is done.

Serve in large bowls over white rice. Garnish with plenty of cilantro and scallions.

This dish goes well accompanied with chilled creamy coleslaw and sourdough bread or corn chips. Serves 6 to 8.


Do real men eat seafood chili? If you have your doubts, this recipe will satisfy the carnivores in your group. As with any meat chili, have your butcher coarse-grind (sometimes referred to as chili-grind) any meats used.

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 cups chopped onion

1-1/2 pounds coarse-ground pork

1-1/2 pounds coarse-ground beef

3 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup chili powder (or more to taste)

3 tablespoons cumin powder

2 tablespoons oregano

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

2 13-ounce cans of beef broth

1 35-ounce canned Italian tomatoes, chopped

10 cloves garlic, chopped

2 16-ounce cans kidney beans, drained

Heat oil in large frying pan, or 4- to 5- quart heavy casserole. Add onions and saute until tender. Add pork and beef and cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except kidney beans; bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about one hour, stirring occasionally until chili is the consistency you prefer. Add beans and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.

Serves 8.

Creamy Caraway


A cold, creamy coleslaw is a perfect accompaniment to a hot bowl of chili. This makes a wonderfully colorful, satisfying side dish.

1 small green cabbage (about 1-1/2 pounds) finely shredded

2 large carrots, grated

1 large onion, grated

1 red bell pepper, finely sliced

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine all vegetables in a large glass bowl. Toss, then add remaining ingredients. Toss again; cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Serves 6.

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