Dinner Tonight: Barack Obama's Chili Recipe

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Dinner Tonight: Barack Obama's Chili Recipe

President-elect Barack Obama's chili won't win over any purist Texans, who would laugh at his beans and tomato, but they were never going to go Democrat anyway. His is a solidly Midwestern recipe with green bell peppers, kidney beans, tomatoes, and other inauthentic additions like red wine vinegar and the possibility of using ground turkey. He even calls for serving it over rice. The economical addition of carbs, usually spaghetti or macaroni, is a favorite pastime in Cincinnati and neighboring states. In Chicago, we used to look fondly as kids on Chili Mac, the kind of lasagna-like casserole made from a hodgepodge of cuisines that only the Midwest could invent.

So is the chili good? Well, it's not bad. The Barack spice mix includes turmeric and basil, two additions I thought were interesting (though turmeric sometimes makes its way into commercial chili powders), but it was a bit bland in the end. I had to resist the urge to tinker with the recipe, like using fresh chilis instead of bell pepper and adding some depth of flavor with honey or a dark beer. I did take one liberty, which was to add salt; the recipe called for none. Not a chili recipe for the ages, unfortunately, but let's hope he'll be a president who is.

  • Yield:4


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • Several cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground basil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Salt (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped
  • 1 can red kidney beans


  1. 1.

    Sauté onions, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add ground meat and brown.

  2. 2.

    Combine spices with a good pinch of salt together into a mixture, then add to ground meat. Add red wine vinegar and tomatoes and let simmer until tomatoes cook down. Add more salt to taste. Add kidney beans and cook for a few more minutes.

  3. 3.

    Serve over white or brown rice. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, onions and sour cream.