Obama’s Chili

Should we listen to Obama in the kitchen or should he stick to politics?

That’s for you to decide after you make Barack Obama’s Chili recipe.  When Obama was asked what his favorite dish was to bring to a potluck he said he’s been making this chili recipe since college and loves to bring it to parties.  Now, I don’t know HOW MANY potluck’s the Obama’s attend (I’m thinking not many), but I was very curious about what Obama thinks is a great pot of chili.

I do have one complaint, at the end of this recipe Obama indicates he can’t reveal all his chili secrets but if it’s made right it’s got the right amount of bite and oomph.  So basically Prez, you are already holding out on us, I haven’t decided if I like that or not.  However, I give you props for publishing the basic model of your chili recipe at all, as I never would with mine…it’s a secret.  Not to mention it’s a highly involved recipe. 

If you are celebrating the inauguration of our new President, what better meal to make than Obama’s chili.

I thought about replicating some part of the Inaugural Luncheon Menu, until I saw it.  I mean there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with it, it’s a beautiful menu.  If it was put in front of me, I would gladly eat it and undoubtedly lick the bowl clean…it’s just that a part of me feels the Inaugural Meal should reflect the food likes and style of the incoming President.  I mean it’s all about him isn’t it?

For example, the Obama’s love Rick Bayliss’ cooking and it would have been nice to see a menu more tailored to the Obama’s (or any incoming President’s) favorite foods. 

Instead, a modest-home style all American feast inspired by the bicentenary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth has been prepared.  A menu reflecting the likes of Abraham Lincoln and what was served during those times.  AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT….I just wish it was a little different is all.  I also learned the meal is planned months before the election to accommodate both the Republican and Democratic nominee so I guess it’s not that personal of a meal after all.  I just think it should be.

Here’s the Inaugural Menu…let me know what you think…

Seafood Stew
Pheasant and Duck served with Sour-Cherry Chutney & Molasses Sweet Potatoes
Apple-Cinnamon Sponge Cake

But if you want to eat and cook like the President…here’s what to make:

This is what you will need:  Ground beef, onion, green bell pepper, garlic, ground cumin, ground oregano, ground turmeric, ground basil, chili powder, red wine vinegar, tomatoes and red kidney beans.  Ingredients not shown: Olive oil and salt.

In a large heavy pot, saute onion, green pepper and garlic in 1 Tablespoon olive oil.

Add 1 pound ground beef  to the onion-pepper mixture and brown.  In a small bowl combine 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon ground basil, 3/4 teaspoon table salt and 1 Tablespoon chili powder.  Add to the ground beef mixture, stirring until combined.  Stir in 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar.

Add chopped tomatoes and cover.  Simmer until tomatoes cook down, about twenty minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Add one 15 ounce can of red kidney beans and cook until warmed through, about three minutes.

Serve over white rice and garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese and onions.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised  that such a simple and quickly put together chili had such a good flavor.  Try it and decide for yourself.

Barack Obama’s Chili

1 large onion, chopped (I used brown)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, crushed
(I used four)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
(I used lean, 7% fat)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground basil
(I used basil leaves)
3/4 teaspoon table salt
(this was my addition, it needed it)
1 Tablespoon chili powder
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped
(I used four medium-sized)
1 can red kidney beans
(I poured out about 1/2-inch of the liquid and then poured the rest of the can in the chili)

In a large heavy pot, saute onion, green pepper and garlic in olive oil.

Add ground beef  to the onion-pepper mixture and brown.  In a small bowl combine ground cumin, ground oregano, ground turmeric, ground basil, salt and chili powder.  Add to the ground beef mixture, stirring until combined.  Stir in red wine vinegar.

Add chopped tomatoes and cover.  Simmer until tomatoes cook down, about twenty minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add one red kidney beans and cook until warmed through, about three minutes.

Serve over white rice and garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese and onions.

Post a Comment


  1. HoneyB 1

    I will be trying this. I love the photos!

  2. I might be making this tonight, but with ground turkey…we are expecting our first snow in 5 years!!! Woohoo…well, you know I have been praying extra hard for it!


  3. Jamie 3

    This looks YUMMY! I’m not much of a chili eater but I might reconsider and try this recipe. Great photo’s.

  4. deeba 4

    Good timing for some good looking chili Cathy! Love the ‘served’ pictures with the colourful cheddar, greens & sour cream. Looks beautiful alright! YUM!! I think I’m gonna make this soon!!!

  5. Dee 5

    Hmm… the Inaugural Menu seems a little ho hum, you know. Chili, on the other hand, is always a winner in my book. It’s interesting to see how everyone has a different way with it. I use my friend John’s recipe and it’s got booze in it. Can’t go wrong with that!

  6. I would eat the meal and love it. But I am disappointed that it’s planned before we know who’s in office. I would think that they would make something special for the Obama’s.

  7. I was hoping for a it more with the Inaugural Menu too. You would have kicked ass in the kitchen!

  8. Love the colours! Looks really delicious.

  9. That is the prettiest chili I have ever seen!

  10. Barbie with a T 10

    Well, having been born and raised in Texas, this looks nothing like Texas chili. It is more colorful and has less thick red liquid that usually gives our Texas chili that slow cooked, warm, (or hot) zip to it. I will say that your photos are expertly done and you make it look like an appetizing meal. Martin Luther King stole the show today down here. Our local newspaper was promoting Martin Luther King’s favorite foods instead of Barack Obama, which was mustard greens with cannellini beans and Southern pecan pie. I just do not think Barack Obama’s chili would go over too well in these parts. Myself, being adventurous and inquisitive, would like to prepare the Obama Chili in an instant. Heck, anything with sour cream and onions on it is worth a try!! Thanks for giving your presentation.

  11. I’ve been told by some very opinionated Texas men with the same name (my husband & father-in-law, not Presidents 41 & 43) that beans DO NOT EVER go in chili. Since they know about things like that, that’s how I’ve been making it for almost 10 years now.

  12. Is Cheney bringing the pheasant and duck? I like chili better!

  13. D 13

    My husband and I live on the same block as President & Mrs. Obama and they do indeed (or did) participate in potluck get togethers.

  14. Cath,
    The chili looks basic and good.
    Your photos are terrific, what camera do you use?

    I hope I will get an invite to Oregon when the pumphouse and vineyard are done! (because I’ll be there! how cool!)

  15. imom 15

    Interesting stuff about the planning for the Inaugural meal. I didn’t realize it was done months ahead of time.

    That chili is pretty!

  16. You made it look delicious, Cathy.

    But I can’t belive he’d leave anything out of the recipe – what nerve ! Not much of a leader, or an example of how to behave. Sorry but it pushed my buttons !

  17. kayola 17

    I am a little surprised by that menu…I would have thought it would be more personalized too. The chili looks like something my boys would really like…I’ll give it a go. I am still going to do your pinaapple with the gingersnaps…oh my stars…that looked so yummy!

  18. It’s a pretty chili, but it sounds a little bland. I was surprised in your review you said it had good flavor given the simple ingredients.
    And yes, the ingaugural menu looks a little wimpy.

  19. Barbie with a T 19

    That is a pretty photo and makes the dish look really colorful, but being from Texas, I just cannot call this “chili”. It is derivation from real chili. Of course, this is a much quicker recipe and I can see where Barack Obama would be hard pressed for time most of his days. lol In our area, Martin Luther King took the limelight in the local newspaper today. His favorite food is mustard greens and white beans, and his favorite dessert is Southern pecan pie.

  20. Julie 20

    Seafood stew….blech :P But that’s just me. If I was Obama I’d sneak in a tupperware bowl of my own chili…it looks great!

  21. Cathy 21

    I totally agree…”real chili” does not have beans, only meat and gravy.  My own personal recipe never has beans.

  22. Maureen 22

    I don’t know how you do it, but you even made chili look pretty!

    Neat facts about the inaugural menu!

  23. The inaugural menu does seem boring. I agree with you, it should reflect the man that is coming into office.

    I wish I could make that chili, but I’m the only one in the house that would eat it. My husband thinks every meal should be meat and potatoes. No joke. It’s so boring.

  24. I’d wager Obama has been to a few potlucks in his life. All of the “community organizer” stuff. I imagine back in the old days people who wanted to get together for dinner for fund raising and planning probably did in on the cheap with a potluck.

    I would totally eat the second course of the inaugural menu. Duck and pheasant with cherries? Sounds good to me. Seafood stew not so much.

  25. Jude 25

    “you are already holding out on us”
    hilarious! :)

  26. Pam 26

    Your photos are great. I’ve never had chili over white rice before.

    The menu doesn’t sound that exciting to me. I am not a fan of pheasant.

  27. Philly 27

    I absolutely hate chili , but you make everything looks so yummy.
    I have gained weight just reading your blog lately.


  28. Alisa 28

    I’m beginning to wonder if it’s your recipes or your food photos that make me drool the most.
    Oh, wait, having made more than half the recipes you post, I have to say it’s the photos that make me drool, but the food that keeps me drooling at such a steady rate.
    My friends and family are beginning to wonder if I have “gland” issues.
    Thanks again!

  29. Bob 29

    Looks good! I’ve been seeing a lot of chili lately, I’m going to have to make some myself soon.

  30. lo 30

    Hey! I’ve got to give you a shout out on this one… it fits perfectly into today’s tomato post on the Burp! blog.

    Now, as for that inaugural menu, I like the local foods link (cherries & seafood), but I’ve also got to admit that that chili is looking better and better to me!

  31. dawn 31

    We are taping the inauguration tomorrow and watching it with friends later in the evening…THIS IS WHAT I AM NOW MAKING. Thank you for this clever and timely post!

  32. ELRA 32

    Can you believe that I never made chili before? that is pretty embarrassing, no?
    I have to make an effort to try the authentic American dish.

  33. grace 33

    i definitely approve, and my opinion of him has risen. beans, peppers, tomatoes, and cheese–it’s all right by me. :)
    (and i could certainly go for some apple cinnamon sponge cake…)

  34. sarah 34

    I imagine the Obamas have been to more potlucks than I have! Chicago’s very Catholic, and they (and Lutherans!) love their potlucks.

    I know if I saw this chili in a church basement, I would go right for it!

  35. Well, as you know I listen to everything Obama tells me, so the chili on top of the list.

  36. Darcy 36

    Wow, I love this, even though Texans might laugh at his use of beans and tomatoes but heck it’s great fodder for our small inaugural gathering tomorrow…Thank you.

    I love your blog by the way.

  37. Bonnie 37

    You are so right, that inaugural menu is blah or just not representative of the couple. Too bad. The chili looks great, heck i can’t wait to try it. Why the heck not.

  38. Tallie 38

    I think the inaugural menu looks BORING! They definitely should modernize it. Duck and pheasant I’m sure aren’t in many people’s top favorite food lists. And apple cinnamon spongecake for dessert? You can’t get much more uninteresting than that.

  39. Paula 39

    I would never turn down a bowl of chili! I like it either way … with or without beans. Even better, my youngest daughter loves chili (and, gasp! I put other veggies in her’s like chopped carrots; she loves it). Best wishes to our new President — and hears hoping there is a bowl of chili waiting for him at the White House!

  40. D 40

    What I don’t understand is why anyone has to use something as trivial as a chili recipe to get their personal digs in. It’s chili people..get over it.

  41. dawn 41

    Ummm…are you reading something I’m not? Where are the digs?

  42. Lisa 42

    Wow, this might be the prettiest chili picture I’ve ever seen.

  43. Shannon 43

    I would have to agree with you Dawn…did I miss something?

  44. An education and a recipe, what else could a post need? Now I’m smarter (at least about the Inaugural menu) and hungrier..

  45. D 45

    Loving Annie wrote:
    You made it look delicious, Cathy.

    But I can’t belive he’d leave anything out of the recipe – what nerve ! Not much of a leader, or an example of how to behave. Sorry but it pushed my buttons !

  46. Louise 46

    Cathy, you did great with my personal favorite part of any good chili … the toppings! Yum yum.

  47. krysta 47

    arg! one of my pet peeves is people not sharing their recipes, it really makes me want to not like them. i love obama but this seriously makes my skin crawl. it’s only a chili recipe not the damn codes to launch nukes or anything!

  48. Lisa 48

    People, people…. THIS is enough to make your skin crawl?? Give me a break! It looks good enough to me — beans, no beans, secret ingredients, or no secret ingredients. Can’t we all just get a long? (and eat chili?)

  49. You can’t go wrong w/ chili!

  50. This would be a fun thing to make tomorrow–it soulnds similar to my chili recipe…

    It would have been SO cool if Rick Bayliss had been cooking the dinner tomorrow–he is such an amazing chef. The menu sounds just a’ight to me…

  51. I guess from tomorrow he won’t have much time to do his chilli often!

  52. tipper 52

    I’d take the chili or the meal either one. Both sound pretty good.

  53. Tanya 53

    That chili looks fabulous! I’ve never seen chili served over rice though – that’s new to me. I would definitely try this one out.

    The Inaugural menu sounds really good, but I’ve never had pheasant. For some reason, the menu doesn’t sound as elaborate as I would have thought.

  54. Caitlin 54

    I’ve know idea why but apparently the inauguration menu was designed months ago and had to accommodate McCain as well.

  55. Mary 55

    I suspect that nothing on the plates of the president and first lady will be touched – so the menu isn’t important. As to the chili, it’s colorful and very photogenic. This is a young family and I’ll bet there will be at least a couple of Friday nights when he makes chili for his harem. At least I hope so!

  56. Cheryl 56

    His chili looks tasty (especially as you’ve documented it!), and I am glad he cooks…BUT, I daresay he is REALLY holding out on some of the secrets! Our in-home executive branch (Mr. L) is an award-winning chili-master…and nary a spice in the cabinet goes unused. Think the cinnamon is what makes it magical…but I don’t know my own husband’s secret recipe either! (I DO like the President Elect’s inclusion of turmeric, though!)

    Wonder if there will be a presidential superbowl recipe revealed in the coming days? ;)

  57. I enjoy chili a number of ways, with beans or without. However, if I were adding beans, I’d have to add more than one can to go with a pound of ground beef. I rather like my beef in chili to be a background flavor, not the main one.

    Interesting inaugural menu for sure. To me the seafood stew if the best part of it, but I sure don’t associate seafood stew as a simple meal that would be served during Lincoln’s time. Again, interesting.


  58. KathyB. 58

    Looks like a winner as far as chili recipes go! Since I don’t care for kidney, lima, or chili beans of any kind, I will make this sans beans and serve over rice ! Yum. My Hubby particularly wanted me to comment that he makes me the original chili, that is ,made without beans! Thank-you. Chili is always a crowd pleaser.

  59. Rebel 59

    Thanks for postin’ this, I’m gonna try it.

  60. athena 60

    Your pictures are lovely! But I’d have to agree this isn’t real chili.. if I served this with beans, ground beef, tomatoes, and bell pepper I’d be hearing complaints and groans in my house, lol.

    Chili in our house has to have simmered and pureed guajillo, poblano, and new mexico chilis, jalapenos, beef chuck, cayenne and lots of garlic and onion, and some habanero, and cilantro.

    I do like having northern “chili” with beans, tomatoes and bell pepper sometimes but only use pinto beans.

  61. Liz C. 61

    Yowsers! That looks like a party unto itself. Delicioso.

  62. Laurie 62

    Great post, Cathy! I’m sure the secret ingredients make Obama’s real chili better, but your photos make this one look pretty awesome.

    I actually like seafood but I do agree that menu is incredibly impersonal.

  63. Thanks for this post. This is really interesting. I like the Inaugural Menu. I’d love to have the Seafood Stew recipe. Goodnight!

  64. I don’t know about the inauguration menu, but the dessert sounds okay, and his chili does look pretty delicious. Wonder what they’ll serve at the first state dinner?

  65. Sara 65

    This looks great, the addition of turmeric is quite unique. Your pictures are beautiful!

  66. tamilyn 66

    Since we are northerners (is that even a word?) the Dude likes beans in his chili, but he makes-not me.

    That inauguration meal sounds pathetic! Why didn’t the planning committee plan 1 meal for each candidate based on their preferences? It isn’t like they had to buy pheasant in October! Good grief.

  67. Flea 67

    The chili looks yummy, and the menu even sounds really good. We’ll see, though, about this new president.

  68. Lex the Mom 68

    I have been wanting to do chili differently this year, thanks for showing the way! I’ve heard this recipe mentioned, but never looked it up (I’m bad like that about any recipe).

  69. Bunny 69

    I always put beans in my chili, that’s one of the best parts!

  70. Looks very festive and sounds great. I’m told that one of the big appeals of the last guy was how “human” he was, but he still came from a place of privilege and doesn’t seem nearly as down to earth as the new guy:-)

  71. Yum on the brownies — looks like a recipe that could work for me since every brownie recipe I try ends up like bricks. On the Inauguration menu, I’m thinking the apple sponge cake has my name on it. You know, after that chili.

  72. can you tell me what tumeric is and why i would need to use it chili?:)

  73. phillygirl64 73

    The meal was supposed to replicate one from Lincoln…February marks the bicentennial of his birth

  74. LarryG 74

    This looks too much like a bean casserole than Chili. I use no beans or tomatoes (or sauce) only beef (sometimes pork) and a variety of chili powders and other spices and herbs.

  75. vanessa 75

    The chili looks good.. I’ve yet to try my hand at chili.. it’s just another one on my long, vague, to-cook list…

    Recipe secrets and secret recipes.. I want some!

  76. EMC 76

    To qualify as “real chili” however, you have to specify which kind of real chili. Cincinatti chili is much different than Texas style, and yes, kidney beans are a major facet. It’s also often served over macaroni (or egg noodles in other parts of the midwest).

  77. Chris 77

    looks good, but how does it taste? rice, chili, sour cream, ???? can almost taste it by looking at it>
    liberals ha

  78. pandora 78


  79. pandora 79

    EDIT: Damn, i am even more hungry now ;) Thank you …

  80. kiaha 80

    this chili looks fantastic. i will always cook this chili for special occasions for my family.


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