Editor’s note: Andrea Weigl seeks recipes from Triangle restaurants requested by readers.
Our family loves the chili from Lilly’s Pizza in Raleigh. It’s unusual that a pizza place has the best chili but it’s true.
Deborah Starry, Knightdale
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Lilly’s Pizza owner Jon Garrison was willing to share the chili recipe but not all of its secrets.
That’s how it goes with Specialty of the House requests; sometimes restaurant owners share, sometimes they refuse, sometimes they share but you never know if a special ingredient is missing.
In this case, Garrison shared the chili recipe but wouldn’t share the recipes for Lilly’s tomato sauce and secret spice blend that are used in the chili. So it may take some tinkering by an obsessed Lilly’s fan to get it close to the original. (If someone does take up the challenge, I’ll print the result.)
You cannot really blame Garrison. He’s been in business for a long time (since 1993 in Raleigh and 2012 in Durham) and he’d like to keep his customers coming back for a taste that they can only get at his restaurants.
Customers can order the chili, which has been on the menu for about 10 years, by itself or with the potato bake.
Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, The N&O, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two locations: 1813 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh; 810 W. Peabody St., Durham
Raleigh: 919-833-0226; Durham: 919-797-2554
Lilly’s Pizza’s Chili
From Jon Garrison, owner of Lilly’s Pizza. Recipe tester’s notes: Garrison would not share recipes for Lilly’s tomato sauce or the secret spice blend, which are both added to the chili. If any obsessive Lilly’s fans figure it out, please send us a note.
1 tablespoon oil, like canola or vegetable
1 pound ground beef
6 ounces brown ale, like Newcastle
2 ounces beef base or beef stock
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 1/4 cups diced green pepper
1 (11-ounce) can sweet corn kernels
1 minced jalapeno, seeds, stem and ribs removed
1 stick celery, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups tomato sauce
2 to 3 diced plum tomatoes
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 (15.5-ounce) cans dark kidney beans and juice
1 teaspoon salt
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-low heat. Add beef and cook, stirring, until completely browned.
Add beer, beef base or stock, onion, peppers, corn, jalapeno, celery, cumin, chili powder and garlic. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
Add tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, cilantro and beans. Simmer an additional 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add up to 1 teaspoon salt. The chili is done when the green peppers and jalapenos are tender.
Yield: 10-12 servings.