Here comes Super Bowl Sunday, and although I’m not necessarily a rabid football fan, I do like any excuse for a casual party. If we’re hosting, I always make chili and cornbread and salad to serve buffet-style at half-time, and I encourage guests to bring the required-at-every-Super Bowl guacamole and Buffalo chicken wings. And beer. And wine. Lots.


The secret ingredient is … peanut butter! Sounds very weird, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried this chili. You don’t taste the peanut butter per se, just an elusive depth of flavor. Good quality chili powder makes a big difference here. Serve the chili with bowls of grated cheddar or jack cheese, diced red onion, sour cream and chopped scallions as toppers. Some folks ladle their chili over plain rice, but I prefer Jalapeño Cornbread on the side.

Serves about 8

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds mixed ground meat (beef, pork, veal), or 1 pound each of beef and pork

2 onions, chopped

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons good-quality chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

2 cups canned beef broth

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

1 large bay leaf

3 cups cooked kidney beans, drained

3 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon sugar

Optional toppings (see headnote)

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil and cook ground meat, onions, garlic, salt and pepper over medium-high heat, stirring to break up large clumps, until meat loses its pink color, about 10 minutes.

Add chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. (If you like your chili super hot, up the cayenne to ¾ teaspoon or more.)

Add 1 cup of water along with the broth, tomatoes, bay leaf and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes. Add peanut butter and sugar and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, until flavors are blended and the chili is quite thick. Use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon to crush about a quarter of the beans to thicken the chili. Discard bay leaf and adjust seasonings before serving. (The chili can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen.)

Reheat gently and serve with toppings suggested in the headnote.


Football is not a sport for the faint of heart, so it feels like the food served at the big game should be gutsy and full of punch. Spicy jalapeños add a real kick to this otherwise-straightforward cornbread. Increase or decrease the amount according to your audience, or leave the hot green bits out altogether.

Makes about 16 squares

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk, any type

4 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh or pickled jalapeños

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan or coat with vegetable oil spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the milk and melted butter or oil. Stir in the jalapeños.

Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and stir gently but thoroughly just until all the flour is moistened. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the bread is pale golden brown on top, and a tester comes out clean in the center. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

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