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Golf, Poker, Cabin Experience Elevated by Wing’s Chili

  What! Another chili recipe? And you’re going to tell us it’s the best ever, right?

  I’ll let you decide the latter. But I will tell you this is a superb chili with a unique ingredient that sets it apart. More on the surprise ingredient in a minute. First the story of a dish we call Wing’s Chili.

  For more than 30 years a group of friends of mine gathered twice a year at a log cabin in the western Pennsylvania mountains – in early summer and mid-fall. Golf and poker were the main activities at King’s Mountain. But eating well also was a priority.

  Like clockwork, the first arrivals on Day 1 started a late afternoon card game while the cabin’s co-owner, Bill Shader, set to work making chili for the evening’s meal. No one paid Bill any attention. At least until we were hungry. And then, well, the chili was always a hit. And it never lasted long.

  It took me maybe 10 years to finally start taking notes on how Bill made his chili. The reason? I wanted to make it for my hometown family and friends because it was so good.

  I did, and it was an immediate success. I’ve been making it ever since. As most of us do, I’ve tweaked the ingredients a bit. The demand for the recipe is always high, so there’s little doubt Bill knew what he was doing.

  Oh, almost forgot: The surprise ingredient mentioned earlier is hot Italian sausage. Compared to often-used ground beef, the sausage elevates the dish to a far tastier level. [Much as it does when you add it to your favorite lasagna recipe.]

  So, I guess you’re curious to know why it’s called Wing’s Chili if its originator is named Bill? That’s simple. Bill’s nickname was Winger, given to him by his pals after he started wearing wingtip shoes in high school. We shortened it to Wing. As in: “Hey Wing, get me another bowl of chili.”

 Sadly, the cabin trips ceased a number of years ago, but Wing’s Chili lives on.

What’s needed: Eight-quart pot + lid. A good knife. Kitchen shears. Cutting board.


6-8 hot [or mild or mixed] Italian sausage links [preferably from a good butcher]

3 garlic cloves

1 yellow onion

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

1 package, mushrooms

1 can black beans [15.5 oz]

1 can light red kidney beans [15.5 oz]

1 can dark red kidney beans [15.5 oz]

1 can diced tomatoes [15.5 oz]

1 can tomato sauce [15.5 oz.]

1 can whole peeled tomatoes [28 oz.]

1 can tomato puree [15.5 oz]

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt [to taste]

½ habanero or jalapeno pepper [optional] or Habanero pepper sauce [also optional but recommended]

Let’s get started:

  Cube onions and chop garlic. Sauté in pot with olive oil on medium heat. Cut up sausage with kitchen shears in one-inch[ish] pieces. Place on top of onions and garlic. Stir until sausage is browned. Either while cooking the sausage – or before – cut up the red and green pepper into cubes and the mushrooms into medium slices.

  Add the veggies and mushrooms to the pot. Stir. Add the beans. Stir.   Add the four varieties of canned tomatoes. [I suggest cutting the whole tomatoes into 3-4 pieces.]

  Add the hot peppers or habanero sauce. [Less is better at first. You can always add more heat later but once it’s hot you have to do some serious tinkering to take it down a notch or two] If you are all in on the hot Italian sausage this also will add heat. Stir again and turn the heat down to simmer. Place lid on top of pot. Occasionally stir.

  Like most chilis, this dish is better when made a day in advance. This recipe yields around 20 servings, good for 8 to 12 people [with some left over]. If you’re having a party with 20 or more people, double the recipe. You can always freeze you what you don’t eat. It makes for a handy meal down the road, especially on a cold winter night when you don’t feel like cooking.

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