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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Aunt Betty's Chili Sauce

IT WAS A TOSS UP either I offer a recipe detailing my Aunt Betty’s molasses baked beans with smoked bacon or her famous chili sauce. I have chosen her chili sauce because it represents one of the great complimentary flavorings that can accompany pot roast. I’ll offer my recipe for a pot roast and it too is simply delicious. Make them on a lazy weekend. Time and patience are important for both.

The chili sauce brings back fond memories of my dad. He tried several times to introduce this special relish topping to me when I was a young teenager. He would express total ecstasy at the flavor as he placed a large spoonful of the cold sauce on top of a generous piece of deep browned meat he had managed to slice away from a three-hour slow-roasted Chuck Roast. His enthusiasm was contagious. He had been forever fond of his mother and then his sister’s cooking and this chili relish is their recipe.

I do recall I was leery of home canning likely the product of kitchen-talk from my grandmother and my Aunt Betty. They were peas in a pod. Both were strict women with strong views. They knew everything about everything. I remember my mother always biting her tongue around my aunt during family dinners especially at Thanksgiving. The women were at opposite ends of the spectrum. But in all honesty the women on my dad’s side of the family could they cook and bake. I must look for people’s good points and need to remember - we all have family!

The textures and flavors of the veggies in this chili sauce nicely mesh with the spices whose origins are from all over the world. Their fusion creates something I just needed a few years to appreciate and when I did I too went “head over heels,” just like my dad; and now I offer this favorite family recipe.

Aunt Betty’s Chili Relish


Chop the following:

3 large onions

2 green peppers

1 red pepper

12 Roma tomatoes, blanched and remove the skins.

Add the following:

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine everything in a deep pot. It should simmer for a good two hours with an occasional stir with a wooden spoon. Do not cover. I generally like to see it halved in volume during this simmer to become the consistency of a more familiar pickle relish. This should fill about five Mason pint jars or a freezer container. I’ll let the many competent canning sites show you the safe way to put them up.

Bob’s Easy Pot Roast

I select a 2 lb. chuck roast with lots of marbling. It is the key to flavoring and must be slow roasted with a minimum of three to four hours in the oven in low temperatures (300-325F). I believe in old-fashion dredging in flour and browning in olive oil in the Dutch oven on top of the stove, the same one that you will cover and place in the oven.

After browning, add a large onion sliced in large strips and two crushed garlic cloves, a 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, 1 cup of your favorite red wine, a bay leaf and several sprigs of fresh cut thyme. You can easily make excellent brown gravy from the pan drippings I simply pour off the cooking liquid into a saucepan and add a white flour and milk mixture (about a cup) and thicken over medium high heat on top of my stove using a whisk. I then strain the gravy and adjust thickness if need. A splash of Kitchen Bouquet doesn’t hurt either.

Many people add root vegetables in the Dutch oven which is absolutely a nice way to go. I just lately have opted more for mashed potatoes to join the pot roast. So, I boil them on top of the stove and whip them with butter and a little milk and sour cream. A green vegetable like peas, or green beans, makes an attractive plate with the chili sauce on the beef and the gravy on the potatoes. If we only had smell-a-vision you would be ready to make this right now!

Topping slices of this Sunday roast with the chili relish adds such flavor to each serving. I also add grated horseradish and the hotter the better.


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