Happy Birthday, Pops!

My Dad would have been 83 this past Friday, January 12. My Dad was quite the character and is partly to blame for my dry, warped sense of humor. I’m grateful for this trait, just not sure others appreciate it as much as they should. I’m freakin’ hilarious! Ask my husband – LOL!

Enough about me, this is about my Dad, he liked to tinker in the kitchen every now and again, much to my mother’s chagrin. One of his specialties was his rendition of his Uncle Pee Wee’s Jailhouse Chili con Carne. Yes, that’s what they called his uncle, why, not sure, just go with it. Dad made this chili every year when the central Texas weather finally decided to let winter show up. When I was younger, I’ll have to admit, I wasn’t a fan. But then again, I only ate steamed rice at the local Chinese food restaurant. My palate changed as I grew up and I acquired a taste for the chili as well as a need to have it. Sore throat? Eat the chili. Cold? Eat the chili.

Now, I carry on the tradition of making the chili and it seems the week of his birthday is usually when this ritual takes place in my home. Although, there was the year I had just discovered I was pregnant and the chefs at work were attempting to perfect the process of breaking down a side of beef. There was a lot of meat in the test kitchen and something needed to be done with it. I made a lot of chili, I blame pregnancy brain and crazy obsessions! I even entered the chili cookoff at work with my team cheering me on every step of the way. We probably would have won if we hadn’t run out of the chili by the time the President of the company came around. Still award winning in my book! Oh well, I digress. Let’s talk about this chili!

Dad typed up his version of the chili – he even named it “Jeff’s Version of Uncle Pee Wee’s Jailhouse Chili con Carne.” Was Uncle Pee Wee ever in jail? Not sure, but the base of the recipe that Dad expanded upon sure is tasty. I made a few tweaks, so I guess the recipe is “Tiffany’s Version of Jeff’s Version of Uncle Pee Wee’s Chili con Carne.”

Here is everything I put in, minus the corn starch and water. I found some hot Hatch green chiles in the freezer, so they went in, too! I didn’t have fresh onions, but I did have a quarter bag of frozen chopped onions and a bag of my favorite Cajun style mirepoix. Dad’s/Uncle Pee Wee’s recipe doesn’t call for bell peppers or celery, but this is my version, so hello frozen, chopped, ready-to-use – sold! Also, notice there are no beans in this photo – that’s because beans do not have a place in chili – EVER!

Set out some fixins’. Todd likes to crush chips in the bottom of the bowl. I like saltines with butter. PS by the way, nicely done, Nabisco and your Premium Saltine Minis. This round I also added julienned spinach – why? Because I had it and I felt the need to add some nutrition to the bowl of meat.

Cheers to you, Pops!! A bowl of my version of your version of Uncle Pee Wee’s Jailhouse Chili con Carne and a glass of Dr. Pepper, to boot!

Tiffany’s Version of Jeff’s Version of Uncle Pee Wee’s Jailhouse Chili con Carne

My Dad's Uncle Pee Wee made some tasty chili, according to my Dad. He took Uncle Pee Wee's recipe and updated it to his tasting and I took Dad's version and updated it to my tasting. Now you can do the same!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Texan


  • 1 Large Dutch Oven


  • 4 ½ lbs Ground Chuck or Round (85/15)
  • 2 Onions, medium, roughly chopped
  • 4 Cloves, Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp Sliced Jalapenos, heaping spoonful
  • 4 cans Mild Green Chiles, 3 oz cans
  • 5 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt I recommend starting with less and tasting halfway – salt can be added, not removed
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Chives, dried, chopped I don't use these because they're not in my pantry
  • 3 Tbsp Corn Starch
  • 8 cups Water
  • Non-stick spray


  • Spray inside of Dutch oven completely with non-stick cooking spray. Add all of the meat. Set heat to medium.
    4 ½ lbs Ground Chuck or Round (85/15), Non-stick spray
  • While meat starts to cook, peel and roughly chop the onions; then peel and thinly slice the garlic, Chop the sliced jalapenos. Open the cans of chiles. Check meat and stir frequently. The heat should be rendering the fat.
    2 Onions, medium, roughly chopped, 4 Cloves, Garlic, thinly sliced, 4 Tbsp Sliced Jalapenos, heaping spoonful, 4 cans Mild Green Chiles, 3 oz cans
  • Stir the meat until all pieces are browned. Press all the meat together away from one side of the pan; then tip the Dutch oven so that all the grease collects in the well created where you pressed the meat. Spoon out the grease and discard it in an old #303 can. You can't get all of the grease. There should be about ⅛ inch of grease left to coat the bottom of the Dutch oven.
  • Put the pan back level and stir the meat. Quickly add the chopped onions, sliced garlic, chopped jalapenos, and other chiles. Stir into the meat mixture until roughly mixed.
  • Pour in 4 cups of water. Add the chili powder, onion, powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika, cumin, and dried chives. Stir thoroughly into the meat mixture. Add the rest of the water. Increase the heat of the burner to medium high.
    5 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1 Tbsp Onion Powder, 1 tsp Garlic Powder, 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt, 1 tsp Paprika, 1 tsp Cumin, 1 tsp Chives, dried, chopped, 8 cups Water
  • Let the pot boil for a minute; then reduce the heat so it simmers. Cook uncovered for 3 hours, adding about a cup of water at mid way.
  • When the liquid reduces again, mix the corn starch with ½ cup water and slowly pour the mixture into the Dutch oven while stirring the chili.
    3 Tbsp Corn Starch
  • The Chili con Carne will be ready to eat in 15 minutes after adding the corn starch.
  • Serve with crackers and butter or warm corn tortillas and butter. Some folks crumble fried corn chips or crackers in the bowl before ladling in the chili.
  • It is optional to top the bowl of chili with chopped onions and/or cheese.
Keyword Chili, Chili con Carne, NO Beans