For three decades I kept my chili recipe a secret. I would not even share it with family members. When it came to competition cooking, my chili and brisket recipes are exactly that - mine - and I did whatever it took to keep it that way.

I recall that for the first 20 years of serious competition cooking, I went as far as stripping the labels off the cans, pouring my super secret ingredient into glass jars, and then adding food coloring to that secret ingredient to make others believe it was either Kool-Aid or orange juice.

Then one year I was asked if I could cook the big community chili pot, instead of competing. Some of the cooks said they would not compete if I competed. Being that these competitions are benefit fundraisers, I chose to cook the community chili pot using my recipe, knowing full well that my secrets would be exposed.

For the last several years I have been sharing my recipe with those who ask. My chili recipe is one you can feed to children, or you can add some spicier ingredients and feed it to those who like it spicy hot.

With the cold fronts that are coming in, I thought it would be a good idea to share my recipe again. So here is the famous "Fearless Dragon's Breath" recipe. Bon appetit, and stay warm.

Fearless Dragon's Breath Chili Recipe - Family-Sized


  • 5 pounds lean, coarse ground beef
  • 7 heaping TBS 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 TBS of finely ground oregano
  • 1-1/2 TBS of ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt (I prefer sea salt but table salt will do)
  • 1 to 3 tsp 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 tsp 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 to 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 to add only half a teaspoon because some of the 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 Chili 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. 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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