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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble

The Rumbly Tummy: Mallory's Not-So-Secret-Anymore-Chili

That's the thing about secret recipes. As much delight as one person can get from being the only one to provide a very special treat, there's a cap. And when the delight expires, it's time to post a blog revealing the not-very-special-reasons why this particular recipe has been a secret. Because food, much like secrets, are always better when shared.

Truthfully, Mallory has been making this chili for years, and only recently decided it a secret on account of the fact that she could never remember how she did it. It's as if an internal message is transmitted between her and the slow cooker of beans over the course of 8 hours, and when the time finally comes to assemble, the ingredients fly wildly and senselessly through the spice rack to the pan to the pot. It's a little different every time but, at least according to Scott, is worth a silver spoon. For this edition of The Rumbly Tummy, she wrangled and wrestled down the concoction (as best she could).

Chili is a staple in The Rough & Tumble household. Not only because it makes for such musical drives between states, but because sometimes, after a day was too cold or the bar food too bland or just when we want to feel the comfort of a full belly after a long day of double gigs and carrot sticks, chili is a cure-all. Also, one pot of chili can go on to be a plate of nachos, and then the topping for our carrot dogs, and toward the end, the quick bite before the show in Missouri we were running late for on account of a flat tire.

This week, as we were in the studio recording a new record with some old pals and new friends, this particular pot of chili was a midday consolation between drum tracks as well as a late night snack after we got home too late to consider starting the oven. It's been an in between snack to get us from an early lunch to a late dinner, and fed an additional four people along the way. We just ate the last bite about an hour ago, a buffer in our stomachs as we suck down decaf coffee in a late night diner where there's enough internet to write this blog before tomorrow morning.

From our borrowed kitchen to yours, the February edition of The Rumbly Tummy, for all those "chili" evenings. Sorry. We could've resisted, but chose not to.

Butternut Squash Chili (where the squash is always optional)


2 c dry great northern beans

1 c dry red beans

1 c dry black beans

2 fresh jalapenos, 1 whole and one diced finely

1 medium-large onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 c butternut squash, cubed

1 c yellow corn​​

1-2 TBSP cumin

1-2 TBSP chili powder

1 TBSP oregano

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp smoked paprika

cayenne pepper (to taste)

salt (to taste)

3 TBSP honey

2 TBPS cocoa powder

capful (or two) apple cider vinegar

lemon to taste


1. Place all dried beans in slow cooker with 6-8 c water, a pinch of cumin, salt, chili powder, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and oregano, as well as 1 of the jalapenos (whole!)

2. Turn your crock pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours (everyone's crock pot is different-- be sure to check on those little beaners in case you have a fast acting one!).

3. When beans are mostly done (let's say they need about an hour more to be perfect!), stir to distribute jalapeno, and remove stem (or, pretend it's a fun game that whoever finds the jalapeno stem gets a big kiss... at least that's how we do it). Saute onion, pepper, and diced jalapeno (we leave all the seeds in-- we like it spicy, but it also burns our eyes when we cook it). Add squash* and saute til browned. Add remaining cumin, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, paprika and a bit of cayenne. Stir until aromatic. Remove from heat.

4. Pour skillet mixtures into the crock pot. There should be some liquid in the pot remaining, but if not, add a cup or two of water. Mash some of the beans to release the starch (which makes a thicker chili). Add corn (we used frozen). Stir.

5. Add honey**, cocoa***, salt, and a bit of lemon juice to the slow cooker. Stir. Cover the pot and cook for an additional hour on low.

6. Remove lid, make sure beans are good. Add a capful or two of apple cider vinegar (this really punches the flavor). Taste, add additional of any spices according to your preference.

*we like to add a special vegetable to our chili. In the winter, we mostly end up with an abundance of butternut squash. In the fall, we like to stir in canned pumpkin. It's a nice way to hide winter squashes without having that normal winter squash taste.

**molasses is also great.

***another fun variant instead of cocoa has been a tablespoon or two of instant coffee. It's pretty spectacular.

****can you see now why Mallory can't quite remember how to write down her recipe?

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