Give a man some ingredients and offer him a roaring fire and things will happen. A blaze at hand coupled with towering, majestic pine and it is hard not to feel like you’re the king of something. If not the world, than just a small tidy corner of it. It’d be the sort of corner in which spiders waltz proudly, frogs shout glad and loudly, and bears trash your trash. When the mosquitos abate to the extent that traverse out-of-doors is not only tenable but pleasurable, it is time to fry chili in a pan. Simply glorious, until it rains. The light to moderate rain permitted continued outdoor cooking. Once the rain became heavy, it was time to head indoors, searing skillet carefully cradled in toweled hands.
2 T cooking oil
1 lb cooked sausage patties (we used sausage and cheddar patties but see the tasting notes below)
2 C cubed zucchini
¾ C corn
½ C diced onion
2 C mild salsa
1 (8 oz) can of tomato sauce
2 T chili powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t Northwoods seasoning (Penzey’s)
- Start a fire. Be careful. Fires hurt if they contact skin.
- Mix oil, sausage, corn, zucchini, and onion in a skillet.
- Place said skillet on a tripod over aforementioned fire.
- Fry until onion becomes soft.
- Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Cook until chili bubbles and becomes pleasurably fragrant.
- Serve chili on a tortilla or cooked rice.
Man can masticate, ruminate, and regurgitate what he will in the name of philosophy. In my neck of the woods the ultimate truth is this- a chili is only as good as its main ingredient. The sausage patties were unpleasantly chewy and annoyingly flavorless. The remaining cast of chili characters did well to pick up for the lackluster lead player but there was only so much they could do. This recipe would generate an outstanding chili if one were to use leftover chicken or pork in place of the sausage. The ITP dutifully ate the chili and mumbled, “pretty good” when asked for their assessment. Typically the ITP pulls no punches and does well NOT to spare my feelings in their chili critiques. As Mother Nature had already worked me over by dousing me with cold rain, I think the ITP was generous. Indeed, they were quite generous, as they agreed to eat this chili breakfast.