For years, I have protected my secret 'Dragon's Breath Chili' recipe with my life. I would strip the labels off the cans, then pour the secret ingredients into glass canning jars. To  one of the ingredients I would add red food coloring to make it look like Kool-Aid, and I would tell those who asked that it was cherry Kool-Aid.

A couple years ago, the Abilene Fire Fighters Association used my chili recipe for the big pot at the Ben Richey Boys' Ranch Chili Super Bowl & Brisket Cook-Off and I swore them to secrecy. I was mortified when I saw pictures of firefighters holding up cans of one of my "super-secret ingredients" on Facebook.

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So, today's your lucky day. How would you like to make your own pot of award-winning Dragon's Breath Chili? Here's the recipe, super-secret ingredient and all. Tell me how it turns out.

Fearless' Dragon's Breath Chili Recipe - Family-Sized


  • 5 pounds lean, coarse ground meat (beef)
  • 7 heaping tablespoons of dark red chili powder (better known as New Mexico Red)
  • Super-secret ingredient Three 32-oz cans chicken broth (preferably low sodium)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons of finely ground oregano
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I prefer sea salt but table salt will do)
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (this will be added to taste, depending on how spicy-hot you want your chili)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (peel and puree with onions in a food processor)
  • 3 medium onions (peel and puree with garlic in a food processor)
  • Three 14-oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 small bottle of red food coloring (optional)
  • 3 teaspoons of ground powdered cumin (the final ingredient)


  • In a bowl combine the dry ingredients of chili powder, oregano, cumin, and salt, plus the pureed garlic cloves and onions.
  • Fry the meat in a skillet while stirring in only half of the dry ingredients mixed with the pureed onions and garlic. After the meat is fully cooked, drain all the grease and meat juices.
  • In a large stockpot add the cooked meat and half of the tomato sauce, two cans of the "super-secret ingredient" Tyson's Low Sodium Chicken Broth (saving a can of chicken broth for the second secret of my recipe as you'll read below). Add the rest of the dry ingredients mixed with more onions and garlic. As you add meat into the pot, the chili will begin to thicken. Thin it down by adding the rest of the tomato sauce (this is a texture preference, so it’s your call as to how thick or thin you want your chili).
  • Cayenne pepper is added for heat only, as some like their chili spicy-hot and some do not. My game plan has always been adding only half a teaspoon because some of judges may or may not like spicy chili. (One year, I didn't use any cayenne and I still placed first, so it's up to you.)
  • Let simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring constantly to keep from scorching. You know that can of chicken broth I asked you to save? Add into the chicken broth about seven to ten drops of red food coloring (or more as you see fit for coloration only), then stir slowly into the chili. This second super-secret ingredient of red goodness I've always referred to as my Cherry Kool-Aid ingredient.
  • As the chili is simmering, add more broth and/or sauce as you think it needs for consistency. Adding the final ingredient 20 minutes prior to serving, stir in the 3 teaspoons powdered cumin (it adds aroma and a bit of spice), then stir it like crazy for the next 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Chili is the official "State Dish of Texas" and according to CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International, Inc.), chili DOES NOT have beans or any other legumes or fillers. If you wish to add beans to your chili, it is no longer called 'chili' but rather a "Northern Stew"!

Anyone can cook this recipe but remember, no two chilis come out alike. When you have two cooks making the same recipe at the same time using the same exact ingredients, you can still end up with two totally different pots of chili. In my opinion, it’s impossible for me to make the same chili twice. I say my recipe is 'chili by the numbers' - measuring everything the same every time to create a 'no mistakes chili'. Good luck!

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