Great-Aunt Nonie’s Country Chili, by L

Nonie is a deceptively sweet and somewhat whimsical shortening of ‘Anunciata’. Italian – in this case Sicilian – typically referring to the first-born daughter. Great Aunt Nonie was indeed short, but anything but sweet and whimsical, I hear tell. However, she and her sister (my paternal grandmother), were/are killer cooks. This chili is no exception, and I like to think its bite and richness, particularly after it’s sat stewing for a while, is attributed to her.

It came to me via my mother as another of the ‘recipe cards’ she made for me before she died, when I first went to college/university. It’s an easy, cheap recipe, more accurately known as chili con carne (chili pepper with meat), with very little cleanup, and is a real crowd-pleaser.  Originated in San Antonio, Texas, by Spanish Canary Islanders – it used to be left to dry in bricks to be taken on expeditions and then became a popular street food – the beef being plentiful back then in similar ‘cattle-towns’. Nowadays it typically falls in the ‘Tex-Mex’ category of cooking. I made it Sunday for the coming week, garnished with Tostito’s Fire-Roasted Chipotle Artisan Recipe chips (adds a great flavor).

You will need:

  • Large pot with lid
  • Can opener. BBOCK and chopping board. TWS.

(No, really, that’s it.)

Serves a small crowd (at least eight good bowlfuls) if done for just one meal, but between two or even one, can stretch it out for longer. Takes about fifteen minutes of prep, half and hour to forty-five minutes of cooking/simmering time.

Ingredients (according to my mother / Great Aunt Nonie, with [my notes]):

  • 3lbs (1500g) ground meat, typically beef. [Minced, if you’re British. I don’t worry too much about getting the meat amount exactly right – oftentimes I want less and thus my batch is smaller; just one regular-sized pack.]
  • 3-4 medium yellow onions, chopped. [I use three max, more often two or just one.]
  • 4 cans of dark kidney beans, undrained. [I tend to include more variety lately and use two cans dark kidney beans and two cans of black beans, all undrained.]
  • 1 lg can tomato juice (46oz). [I tend to use a can of chopped plain tomatoes.]
  • 5 level tablespoons / 1/4cup chili powder.
  • 3tsp sugar. [I tend to not bother with this – it’s to cut the tartness of the tomatoes but I don’t find I have that problem.]
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Great accompaniments: Regular cheese Doritos, corn or tortilla chips, particularly blue tortilla chips, saltine crackers, cornbread. Can be served with rice (mostly a European thing) but tastes wonderful on its own, so I don’t usually bother. You might also like shredded cheese or sour cream to compliment the spice!


  1. Brown meat with onions in your pot. Throw all of your seasoning in (apart from the sugar) before the meat is cooked, stir until it’s dispersed evenly.
  2. When the meat is cooked, add your beans and tomato juice / can of tomatoes. Add the sugar if you’re using it.
  3. Mix well, bring it to a rolling boil [or just a boil] and then stir some more, turn down the heat to a strong simmer and let it cook for half an hour to forty-five minutes. It will thicken – do not be alarmed. [Mine tends to be thick anyway because I use the tomatoes instead of tomato juice – be your best judge.]


No matter your kind of pot, be sure to stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom – I tend to put some olive oil in the bottom of my pot for just this reason. This is one of those recipes that tastes better the longer it sits, and actually lasts a long while (probably due to the high chili powder content). I tend to make a batch, take half and freeze it, and leave the other half in the fridge to last me a while. If all else fails, it is useful as a slow-acting corrosive. (Though that foil may have just been very weak. Weak foil,  yes.)

I made a batch of this for a ‘do at work, and someone stole it out of the fridge. I was flattered until it occurred to me they’d taken two of my parents’ good Tupperware. I mean, if you’re that hungry, go ahead.

PS – I couldn’t tell you what’s ‘country’ about the recipe. Certainly doesn’t refer to the ‘home country’, as there’s nothing Sicilian about it!


One Response to “Great-Aunt Nonie’s Country Chili, by L”

  1. […] recipe cards. This grandmother, Marylene, is the sister of the Great-Aunt Nonie from whom came the Country Chili. Mom used to make it with real lump crabmeat sometimes, and fresh shrimp always, that she got by […]

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