Dinner Diaries

Buckmasters Big Red Chili

Buckmasters Big Red Chili

By Tim H. Martin

Winner of 2010 Buckmasters Cook-off has layers of sausage, beef, spices and one not-so-secret ingredient.


• 2 lbs. ground pork sausage (I use 1 lb. Jimmy Dean Sage & 1 lb. Jimmy Dean Hot)

• 1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, in small dice

• 1 medium white onion

• 1 medium red onion

• 2 28 oz. cans crushed or diced tomatoes

• 8 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 can dark red kidney beans

• 1 can light red kidney beans

• 2 10 oz. cans, original Rotel

• 2 tablespoons, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

• 1/3 cup chili powder (I use McCormick's Hot Chili Powder)

• 2 tablespoons ground cumin (use Fiesta brand if you can find it)

• 2 tablespoons tomato paste

• Kosher salt to taste

• Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

• 1 cup water

• 1/2 teaspoon sugar


1. Except for meat and onions, stir together all ingredients in a large pot and heat on low to medium while browning meat and onions in cast iron skillet.

2. Use a paper towel to blot stew meat dry. This will help it brown well.

3. Brown the meats and onions in batches and drain fat.

4. Add the browned meats to the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes.

I prefer using a heavy cast iron skillet to brown the meats and onions. I also recommend removing all sinew and excess fat from the stew meat and dicing into small pieces, especially if little kids will be eating the chili.

My last tip is to make the chili a day before serving to let the flavors meld overnight. Store in the refrigerator; reheat slowly.

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2012 Buckmasters Chili Cook-off

Finding My Indefinable Certain Something

The annual Buckmasters Chili Cook-off is an event Buckmasters employees look forward to each fall.

Everyone has a great time whether they're entered into the chili competition, the Halloween costume contest or simply standing by with a spoon, a judge's card and an empty stomach.

In 2009, I took a chance with a green chili entry, but barely eked out a second place ribbon. For 2010, I decided to go big with my version of what a great red chili should be. I brainstormed on the recipe from my favorite thinking spot, the bowstand.

While biding my time waiting for a big buck to graze by, I envisioned the perfect red chili. It had to be brightly colorful, layered with flavors, a tad on the hot side, with high quality ground sausage, small bites of seared beef to add texture, quality kidney beans and traditional spices. It should also have an indefinable certain something to add a bit of mystery.

I discovered my indefinable certain something in a local Vietnamese restaurant in Montgomery, Ala.
Although many have never heard of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, it's actually one of the most popular sauces throughout the world, especially Asia. Sriracha gave the chili a vibrant red color while adding a smooth, exotic feel to the flavor layers.

Speaking of layers, you'll notice the chili has two types of onions-red and white. I also used a mixture of Jimmy Dean Hot and Jimmy Dean Sage sausage, as well as both light and dark kidney beans. Mixtures of ingredients give chili depth and individuality, so don't be afraid to mix it up and make it your own.

My chili mantra is, there's no wrong way to make chili.

The Buckmasters staff though enough of this red version to return the cook-off crown to my head. I hope you and your family will enjoy it, too!

— Bon Appétit, Y'all, Tim

Author's Note: Don't omit the Sriracha. It's usually available at Wal-Mart on the foreign foods aisle, or any Asian food store. Look for the rooster logo. It's cheap, will last a long time and it also goes well with fish, chicken, soups and other traditional American dishes.

Copyright 2023 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd