The Lamont Chili cookoff was started by grad students in the summer of 1983. It hasn't been held every year, but it is a regular event anticipated by many. In the beginning the prize was "the melted spoon" created by Teddy Koczinsky with an acetylene torch in the rock mechanics lab. According to my collection of spoons, this chili won in the years:

1984

1985

1988

1991

1997

2003

2006

John D's Chili

I got the original recipe for this chili from my mother, who learned it from my grandmother, who in turn credited it to her brother, my great-uncle "Rattlesnake" Bill Hart, who had a pecan ranch in east Texas.  Grandma always claimed that the fact that the ingredients included non-"Texas chili" items such as beans and onions was due to the chili's east Texas origins.  In any case, I started cooking it and developed my own version during the '60's.

Most people seem to enjoy eating this stuff, as evidenced by its unprecidented 7 wins in the Lamont Chili cookoff.  To put an end to increasing complaints about unfair competition, We're publishing the recipe.

This makes 12 - 16 quarts, and takes 2 days total time.

        2 - 3 pounds of ground beef, or diced brisket [1/8 -inch cubes]
        1 pound smoked sliced bacon, cut crossways into 1/4 inch strips
        8 large red onions, or equivalent volume, coarsely chopped.
        4 28-ounce [or thereabouts] cans of tomatoes, with liquid
        3 - 4 40-ounce cans of dark red kidney beans, with liquid
        1 tablespoon crushed cumin
        2 tablespoons chili powder
        4 [or more, to taste] jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
        1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
        1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or 1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce

1.  start frying out the bacon [until crisp] in a large heavy skillet.

2.  Meanwhile, empty cans of tomatoes into your biggest stewpot.  Crush them up with bare hands [a good job for the kids!].  Turn on the heat and pour in the kidney beans.

3.  While the bacon is still cooking, peel and chop the onions.  When the bacon is done, use a slotted spoon to drain it and dump it into the chili pot.  Pour the bacon fat off into a Pyrex measuring cup -- there'll be about 1 cup.  Pour half the bacon fat back into the skillet and brown half the onions.  Drain the onions and use the other half of the bacon fat to cook the other half of the onions.  Cook the onions "until golden brown" -- this means until all their water is gone, they're transluscent, but not burned, and their volume is considerably reduced.  Pour the first, drained half of the onions into the chili and drain the other half.

4.  Now, brown the beef -- the water will come out, making a soupy mess -- keep cooking over medium heat until it goes back in, then dump it into the pot.  Now you've finished doing the hard part.  It will have taken 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5.  Add all the spices, except the jalapenos.  After the chili comes to a boil, reduce heat, simmer and stir occasionally for at least an hour.  Keep the pot lid on most of the time -- you can reduce the fluid level, if necessary, on the second day.  Remove from heat and let stand overnight [I put it on the basement floor, and then into a refrigerator the next morning].

6.  The second day, bring the chili back to a boil [be careful not to burn it!].  Reduce the heat, add the jalapenos, and simmer, uncovered if not thick enough, for as long as it takes for the chili to "smooth out", and the onion pieces lose most of their physical identity.

7.  Reseason to taste, and pig out.  Freeze any leftovers in microwavable portions, and you're set with weekend lunch for months.