This Texan from Beaumont swaggered into our Destin territory with guns blazing and a “bring it on attitude.”  Kenny Harrison, along with wife, Darla, have become permanent residents of Destin living in Kelly Plantation.

Ken was born and raised in New Orleans, met the beautiful and lovely Darla, married and moved to Beaumont, Texas. As the years passed, they decided they wanted to move closer to Darla’s family so they made the decision to move here several months ago.

Darla’s parents, Jean and Jim Fogleman are longtime residents of Destin.  The Harrisons have one daughter, Caitlin, who is studying bio-technology at Texas A&M.  Don’t have to wonder why they are Texas Aggie fans, but they might have to get over that if they live here many more years.

Our winter weather has been a bit chilly lately, but things heated up in Kelly Plantation at the recent Chili Cook-off.  Paddles were furiously stirring as 70 people came in to taste and vote for the Top Chili Chef.  Competition was fierce and pots were steaming, but there could be only one winner.

Kenny Harrison prevailed and was crowned, the best of the rest.

Kenny works locally for Dex Media and Darla works with Emerald Coast Magazine. I asked Kenny if he liked to cook and he responded, “My favorite hobby is cooking. I love to entertain and I find cooking a creative outlet that I enjoy. I love to share my cooking with other people and would love to open a restaurant if the business wasn’t so brutal.”

I congratulated him on his win and he commented, “I am passionate about cooking; this keeps me sane.”

He was prevailed upon to share his insane chili recipe with us and it appears on this page.

Don’t forget; a blue ribbon doesn’t come without effort, and this effort comes with 31 ingredients.  Kenny says he cooks by taste so this is an estimated recipe and makes enough for about 40.


Ken Harrison’s Chili Recipe:



1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground turkey

2 lbs ground chuck (have butcher grind for chili)

1 lb pork loin (cubed into bite size pieces)

2 28oz cans of diced tomatoes

1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 cup beef stock

1 lb dried red kidney beans (soaked overnight in warm water)

2 green peppers (chopped)

3 large sweet onions (chopped)

2 stalks celery (chopped)

6 cloves of fresh garlic (minced or pressed through garlic press) (if you buy the jar of pre-minced then use about 3 tbs)

2 fresh poblano peppers (chopped)

1 lg fresh jalapeno (chopped)

6 whole bay leaves

1 3oz bag dried ancho peppers (remove stems and seeds, then run through food processor till finely chopped)

1 chipotle pepper chopped w/ 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from can (they come in a can and you will find these in the ethnic food aisle at Publix). These are extremely hot but add a real depth of flavor to the chili!

1 8 oz package Mexican blend shredded cheese (this goes in the pot and cooks with everything else)

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs butter

2 tbs ground cumin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 oz of chili powder

2 tbs Hungarian paprika

2 tbs honey

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 cup red wine

1/2 Cup Yuengling Beer

Salt to taste (I wait to add salt until chili is fully cooked, since chili powder has salt in it)



In a very large pot (I use a 13 quart Magnalite Pot); over medium heat add olive oil, butter, onions, celery, all fresh peppers and sauté until soft.  In large skillet quickly brown each meat individually, doing the beef last (beef will make a lot of grease, so remove meat only with slotted spoon) as each meat is browned add to pot of veggies. Now add the remaining ingredients, cover pot and bring to boil, and then reduce heat to low, continue cooking about 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally until beans are cooked through.  Taste and add seasonings if needed, may need more chili powder, salt, etc.

Place bowls of sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, chopped onion, chopped jalapenos, & Fritos; add as desired.


Cook’s note: Since I cook by taste, this is an estimated recipe ….. just taste as you go and adjust to your own palette!  This recipe makes a huge pot of chili, which freezes very well or you may cut recipe in half.