Helen Gresett's
Red Wine Chili #2
with modifications by Craig Zeller

Makes approximately 4 - 4 1/2 gallons of beanless chili

Don't worry! If you don't really need enough chili to feed a fire department, this recipe scales well. If you like your chili with beans, see the 'Ranch Beans' recipe in the links to the right. I recommend that you keep the chili and the beans separate, combining only when served. Chili can be kept frozen for quite a while, but the beans don't take freezing too well.

Ingredient List

18 Lbs18 lbs. Tri-Tip, lightly marinated with Santa Maria dry rub
9Large yellow 'sweet' onions, chopped into 1/2" pieces
8 - 10Cloves garlic, minced
15 Tablespoons'Chile Molido'; Pasilla chile powder
4 TablespoonsGround Cumin powder
4 TablespoonsOregano
2 TablespoonsCayenne pepper
3 TablespoonsPaprika
1 CupFresh Chopped Basil Leaves
To tasteSalt
6 - 8 ea. 28 oz. cansTomatoes, peeled and chopped with liquid
2 ea. 6 oz cansContadina Tomato Paste
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 - 2 LitersBurgundy wine


As with almost any chili recipe, this is best prepared at least a day in advance of serving, chilled overnight, and reheated. Chili is always better on the second day when the spices have had a chance to penetrate the meat and onions.

The 18 pounds of marinated Tri-Tips are seared, then slow cooked at 190 degrees farenheit for approximately 8 hours, then cooled, and cut into 1/2" cubes.

Lightly brown onions and garlic in a small amount of olive oil until they just begin to yellow.

Place meat and onion/garlic mixture in a 20-quart (5 gallon) pot, preferably stainless steel or cast iron. Aluminum pots should not be used as they are reactive with red wine.

Stir in the tomatoes, spices, and wine.

Cook over medium heat for approximately 4-5 hours, or until the meat and onions are tender. Remove from heat and refrigerate overnight.


Before serving: Re-heat over medium flame and ladle-off excessive grease as it rises to the top. Add Masa Harina (flour made from white corn) as a thickener to eliminate excessive liquid.

Do this slowly, adding a little at a time... a little Masa Harina goes a long way. Note that maximum thickening will not be achieved until the mixture has come to a boil.

Serve with fresh chopped onion, fresh chopped cilantro, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and the juice of fresh lime slices as condiments. Note that condiments are not included in ingredients list, above. If you're the typical chili-head that likes onion and cheese, indulge yourself and try a big dollop of sour cream, cilantro and limejuice with it as well. One local restaurant serves its chili in a medium sized Sourdough 'Round'. They slice the top off, scoop out most of the bread, and fill with piping hot chili and condiments. The top is toasted after applying a butter, garlic, and cheese spread. It makes a great edible bowl.

Tuning the Recipe

If you like your chili on the hot side, you can tune the recipe by increasing the amount of Cumin, Oregano, and Cayenne; but I wouldn't get too drastic with the Cayenne until you've tried it. The first time I prepared this in a large 5 gallon batch, I mistakenly grabbed the Cayenne jar when I reached for the Paprika; this after having already added the Cayenne! The results were best described as 'incendiary'. You could increase both Cumin and Oregano to 6 Tablespoons, and the Cayenne to 3 Tablespoons without maiming too many innocent bystanders. Cumin is the spice that gives Chili its distinctive flavor, and some of its heat. The Paprika is there basically to provide the reddish color.


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Updated Thu Apr 17, 2008.
All comments, questions, and requests to zeller@zdi.net