Homemade Three-Hour Chili

Dad and I rarely cook together but when we do, it’s to make our three-hour chili. Mom always heads to the grocery store to pick-up the dozens of ingredients we need for our masterpiece but it’s just dad and I in the kitchen. This all started with a chili recipe dad came across in the newspaper something like ten years ago and we’ve been customizing it with our own ingredients, proportions, and cooking methods ever since.

Three-Hour Chili Dad and Melissa

Sometimes on Thanksgiving, sometimes on Christmas we pull out our recipe and decide to make a pot or two of chili. It’s a laborious task to say the least — our process takes no less than three-hours from prep to final tasting.  Honestly, that’s probably not a long time for a pot of chili but it’s longer than I ever thought I’d spend in the kitchen on a non-holiday meal.

So, this Thanksgiving we decided to make a big pot of our infamous dish à this would give the chili two full days to marinate before we doled it out for lunch on Saturday afternoon.  Note: we make ours pretty spicy so if spice isn’t your thing, don’t add the crushed red pepper and add only half the chili powder.

Here’s a version of our three-hour chili recipe….


  • 4 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (remove casings)
  • 12 oz. tomato paste
  • 84 oz. Italian plum tomatoes, canned
  • 32 oz. dark red kidney beans (drained)
  • 11 oz. pitted black olives (drained)
  • ½ pound yellow onions
  • ½ pound red onions
  • 1 cup chili powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup ground cumin
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped dill
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup dry red wine (Pinot Noir, Chianti, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, etc.)
  • 10 oz. beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions: In a skillet, cook the ground beef and Italian sausage until well browned. Three-Hour Chili MidRemove from the skillet and drain off the grease. Set aside. Three-Hour Chili MeatNext, heat the olive oil in a very large pot. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted (approximately 12 minutes). Add the ground beef and Italian sausage to the wilted onions — still on very low heat. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, cumin, chili powder, mustard, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, tomatoes (as well as the juice from the tomatoes), wine, lemon juice, dill, parsley, and kidney beans. Three-Hour Chili SeasoningStir well and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir in olives. The chili may still be pretty still at this point so add beef broth to get the desired thickness. Three-Hour Chili PotTaste and adjust as needed – add sugar, if you need a touch of sweetness. Simmer for five more minutes. Serve hot and top with shredded cheddar cheese.


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