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Polly Bergen’s Chili

Dad was ingenious. When I was a young teenager dad was the bishop of our congregation. At that time one of the stats he had to submit was the

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number of families who had Family Home Evening (FHE) on a weekly basis. FHE is a weekly tradition of spending quality time with your family on Monday night. He created an opportunity for all the families in our congregation to spend time together at a once-a-month Monday night church social and potluck dinner. Charismatic and energetic, Dad fostered a connective community spirit and the word spread like pancake batter on a hot griddle. It wasn’t long before the cultural hall at church was over overflowing with families eating together, having conversations with their children, connecting with other families and being thoroughly immersed in an enjoyable evening. A secondary benefit was Dad’s FHE stats exploded. After a few months of stellar reports his superiors inquired about his strategy for improving the FHE numbers and the positive impact it was having on the youth.

One benefit for me was the plethora of potluck dishes. The menu was driven by rotating A to Z assignments based on family name for main dishes, salad, sides and desserts with the church donating the drinks. One evening I had a bowl of mouthwatering meaty and spicy chili. It was spicy with heat but also spicy with more complex seasonings that weren’t usually in chili. I had to get the recipe, discover what the mystery ingredients were and cook up a big batch. Kay McBride happily divulged actor Polly Bergen’s chili recipe.

I love it and my guests are always pleasantly surprised by the unique flavors. My favorite way to serve it is scooped over a bed of steamed rice with a selection of toppings offered on the side; cool sour cream, chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, grated cheddar and diced fresh tomatoes.

Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 2 Hours 25 Minutes | Yield: 15 cups | Difficulty: Easy

The Sauce
4 lbs Ground Beef
6 large Onions, diced ;)
4 large Green Peppers, diced ;)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 29-oz cans Diced Tomatoes
2 6-oz cans Tomato Paste
4 15-oz cans Kidney Beans, drained
1 tsp White Vinegar
1/4 cup Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Ground Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tbsp Salt
1/2 Tbsp Pepper

The Rest
Sour Cream
Chopped Cilantro
Sliced Green Onions
Grated Cheddar
Diced Tomatoes
Hot Cooked Rice

Preparation Instructions
1. Brown ground beef in large Dutch oven, about 10-13 minutes, then drain excess grease.

2. Add onions, green peppers and garlic cooking until soft and tender, about 10-12 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, vinegar, chili powder, cayenne, cloves, bay, salt and pepper. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer for 1-2 hours. Adjust salt and pepper.

4. Serve in a bowl or on a plate over rice. Offer small bowls of sour cream, cilantro, onions, cheddar, and tomatoes for garnishes.

;) Onions—Cut onions in chunks and process in food processor until diced.

;) Green Peppers—Cut peppers in chunks and process in food processor until diced.

Dish Designer
• Exchange one can of kidney for black beans.
• Add 1 cup fresh or frozen corn at the end and cook for 3-4 minutes.
• Exchange rice for corn chips for a crunchy texture.
• Exchange diced for whole tomatoes and cut in small chunks before adding to the pot.
• Exchange cilantro for parsley.
• Freeze some in zipper bags for easy busy day dinners.

Inspiration—Kay McBride, Polly Bergen and my dad, George Horton.
sauces over under and through

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2 Responses to Polly Bergen’s Chili

  1. Audrey November 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    This chili recipe is amazing! I love it on rice with the toppings. Gives it texture.

  2. helenhorton November 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Served over rice with the accompaniments, it turns a delicious bowl of chili into a gourmet dish.

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