America’s Foods – Tidewater Chili

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Community News

Image/s Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation or All rights reserved.

Image/s Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation or All rights reserved.

This week’s Winter Colonial Recipe is a hearty bowl of Tidewater Chili! The Tidewater region is the easternmost portion of Virginia in what is known as the Commonwealth of Virginia. The term tidewater can be given to any area where the water level is significantly affected by the tides, and will vary based on the maximum tide height when the water comes in. Settlers of early America would plant fields of tobacco around this area to reap their crops using the excellent drainage system that came with the land. This recipe comes from the book Entertaining Ideas from Williamsburg.

Ingredients (18-20 servings)
4 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup peanut oil
3 cans (28 ounces each) Italian plum tomatoes
2 cans (29 ounces each) tomato puree
2 teaspoons oregano
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons basil
1/3 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 pounds Surry County, Virginia, smoked sausage or Italian smoked sausage
5 pounds lean chuck
4 cans (15 ounces each) red kidney beans, drained

It’s unclear to say if the region was known the chili bowl, or if the meal is representative of the watery characteristic that tidewater regions are known for, but one thing’s for sure: it is definitely delicious. This bowl of onions, red pepper flakes, smoked sausage and kidney beans are sure to warm the many stomachs of freezing Patriots all throughout the New England region. Begin by sauteing the chopped onions with some garlic in peanut oil. After a little bit stir in tomatoes, herbs, and spices and simmer this with the inclusion of lean chuck (ground meat). Drain the sausages and add this to the mixture, then simmer the whole thing for one hour. Finally, add the beans to the pot and you’ve got yourself a great colonial meal for the cold nights! The full recipe, with additional ingredients and instructions, can be found here (hyperlink: