Meet the Howards, a couple of my newest friends.

I recently had the great pleasure of meeting Rob and Ilean Howard when my older brother and I delivered one of his pig cookers to the Howard’s church in Wilmington. My brother always says that we meet some of the nicest people with our deliveries, and I wholeheartedly agree.

When we make deliveries, I’ve gotten in the habit of asking the man of the house about his favorite dish that his wife prepares. Most will think about it for a few seconds and then say that picking out just one dish is a bit hard to do. When I posed this question to Mr. Howard however, he didn’t hesitate a bit before saying “her chili.”

Intrigued, I asked Ilean if she would be willing to share her recipe with me. The recipe is simple, using just a few key ingredients. Ilean pointed out that using the right chili seasoning is very important. Her favorite is Sauer’s Chili Seasoning Mix.

The one thing that I really like about the recipe is that it’s not too hot. I never understand why people like to make chili so hot that you break out into a sweat after the first mouthful. Ilean says she likes to serve a little extra chili seasoning on the side, along with some hot sauce, so that her guests can increase the heat to their desired taste. I like the way she thinks.

This recipe would be great for that next family get together or for some tailgating at that next big game. You can have it ready to serve in just under an hour, so how easy is that?
If you’re ready to give this Howard family chili a try, then let’s get cooking!

What you’ll need to make the dish:

  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 3 medium size yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Sauer’s chili powder, or seasoning mix, to taste
  • 1 15.5 oz Hanover light red kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz Hunt’s tomato sauce

Howard Family Chili Recipe (PDF).

Howard Family Chili:
 You’ll need these ingredients, plus some Sauer’s Chili Seasoning Mix.

Start out by chopping up the onions and placing them in a fairly large stock pot set over medium heat on your stove top. Add the ground chuck, breaking it up as you place it on top of the onions. Because the ground chuck has such a low fat content, we will not need to drain off excess grease from it once it browns. If you substitute regular ground beef, you might want to brown the meat first, drain off most of the grease, then add the onions.

Keep a close eye on the beef and onions as they cook. You’ll need to stir this often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. The onions need to cook until they are translucent, and the beef until it’s browned.

Once the beef has browned sufficiently, add the salt, black pepper and the packet of chili seasoning mix. Stir well to combine. Next, add the tomato sauce, stir again, then let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.

Finally, add the light red kidney beans to the pot. Ilean didn’t say whether she drains the liquid off the beans in the can or not, so I just partially drained them, then added them to the sauce pot.

Reduce the heat down a notch, and let the chili simmer for about 30 minutes longer, or until the beans are as tender as desired. How simple is that? Thank you Howard Family.

Ilean serves her chili with diced tomatoes, sour cream, corn chips, and cheese on the side. Serve warm and enjoy!

Steve Gordon is a writer, recipe tester, and lover of all things Southern. You can read more of his writing and step-by-step recipes at Click here to find more of his recipes.

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Erin Reitz is a former digital content specialist at Our State.