Polska Duma: Polish pride as expressed through chili at the Brooklyn Chili Takedown

August 13, 2008
Red Ribbon Chili

Red Ribbon Chili

Though I don’t often admit it, I’m a pretty competitive person. It’s honestly not so much that I like to win (though you know I do) but I really like a good spirited battle… especially when it focuses on something I’m good at.

So when I heard about the Chili Takedowns hosted by the recently famous and very funny Matt Timms, you know I was one of the first people to sign up… because it Just So Happens that I make a kick ass chili (again thanks to culinary wisdom passed down from that ole trouble maker- my father). AND, it JUST so happens that this ah-mazing chili is actually pointastic.

Well, pointastic if chili is your starting point.

You see, this chili has a secret, one I did not share at the event… but I will share it here. This sweet and sour delight (also known to me as Polish Chili) is made with ground turkey. It really is. Not I substituted ground turkey as some plan to make it lower in fat, but the recipe was really truly developed around ground turkey. In fact, I doctored the original chili in a completely point-horrifc way and added kielbasa. And you know what? The kielbasa was delicious. And you know what else? The proportion of kielbasa to turkey was good enough that the chili is STILL pointastic.

And you know what else?

This low(er) fat chili went ahead was chosen by the people as 3rd out of 25 sumptuous chilies. It sure was. And yes, I was pleased.

As for the rest of the event, it was a party. Full of faces that I’m hoping will become even more familiar… such as Cathy Erway (Not Eating out in New York), Scott Gold (The Shameless Carnivore), and Nora Sherman (The Great American Cooking Project). Cathy and Scott were both judges and Nora’s summertime chili kicked my ass and was chosen for 2nd place (by the people). The other two judges were local butcher Tom Mylan (Diner and Marlow & Sons) and executive chef Camille Becerra (Paloma, and a former contestant on Top Chef). The people’s choice winner was Becky MacGregor… and I have to admit, her brisket filled chili that apparently took 14 hours to make was out of this world. The judges named Zeph Courtney’s “I Want You Inside Me Chili” as their first place choice, which I can’t really argue with, as it was pretty much the definition of chili.

But enough recap… let’s get back to the business at hand… Polish Chili… which is delicious… and just happens to be low fat….

My great prize, hanging proudly.

My great prize, hanging proudly.

Timski’s Polish Chili (as made by ernski)
Makes about 2 1/2 gallons, freezes well.
Serves a million, or 35, or 2 for months.

6 lb Lean Ground Turkey
3 lb of the Sweetest Onions You Can Find, chopped
1 1/2 lb Kielbasa, cut into chunks
3 lb Mushrooms, in chunks
1 Bottle A1 Steak Sauce (10 oz)
1/2 Bottle Worcester Sauce (5 oz)
3 Cans Bush’s Original Baked Beans (28 oz each)
3 Cans Dark Red Kidney Beans (15.5 oz each)
2 Cans Whole Tomatoes (about 28 oz each), drained
1 Cup Molasses (more or less to taste… depends on how sweet your onions are)
1/4 Cup Chili Powder (go ahead… make your own!)
2 Tbs Cayenne Pepper (more or less to taste)

Salt and Pepper

Sour Cream

Get out the biggest pot you can find (maybe two- remember, over two gallons). Heat the pans up and add the Turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until throughly browned. Drain the meat, leaving small amount of fatty liquid goodness in the bottom of the pan.

Add onions with some salt and pepper, keeping the pan on medium and sweat them out a bit. Once the onions are translucent start adding the liquids, beans, and tomatoes. Hold off on the molasses and spices.

Add the turkey and kielbasa and stir everything together. Slowly add the molasses and spices, tasting along the way for the correct balance. Just now, add in the mushrooms. Raise the heat and bring chili just to boiling point, then lower and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or more.

Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream.

Points Analysis:

Sooo…. As is, per HEAPING 1 cup serving: 6

If you’re interested, make it as my father always did, without the kielbasa: 4

Keep the sour cream to a tsp and you get all the creaminess for a big fat: 0



  1. […] about Southern flavor, there was indeed an Indian-influenced chili, a Thai-inspired chili, and a Polish chili replete with kielbasa. I’m not sure if that’s enough to make this a trend, but it was certainly […]

  2. If only I had a dime for every time I came to lessbutmore.wordpress.com.. Incredible post!

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