Donna’s Award Winning “Midget Magic” Chili

Donna’s “Midget Magic” Chili isn’t just a delicious and hearty meal; it’s a recipe that carries with it the spirit and pride of Putnam County, Missouri. As a proud alumna of Putnam County High School in Unionville, MO, where the Midgets reign as the beloved mascot, this chili recipe holds a special place in my heart. It’s a tribute to my grandma’s culinary skills and a nod to the community spirit of my hometown.

Donna’s Award Winning “Midget Magic” Chili


  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups green peppers, diced
  • 5 buds garlic (or 1 clove), minced
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 6 cups tomatoes, chopped, with juice
  • 3 cans corn
  • 3 (16 oz) cans dark red kidney beans
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed sweet basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 packet Chilli-O seasoning
  • 3 cups water


  1. Prepare the Base:
    • In a large skillet, brown the ground beef along with the chopped onions, green peppers, and garlic. Once the beef is thoroughly cooked, drain the excess fat.
  2. Combine Ingredients in Crock Pot:
    • Transfer the browned beef mixture to a crock pot. Add the chopped tomatoes with their juice, corn, kidney beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, sweet basil, salt, pepper, and the Chilli-O seasoning packet.
  3. Cooking the Chili:
    • Pour in 3 cups of water and stir the mixture well. Cover the crock pot and simmer on low for at least 6 hours. The slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld beautifully, creating a rich and hearty chili.
  4. Serving:
    • This recipe makes about 6 quarts of chili, perfect for a large gathering or for storing leftovers. Serve hot, perhaps with a side of cornbread or over a bed of rice. Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, or chopped green onions if desired.

Donna’s “Midget Magic” Chili is more than just a recipe; it’s a celebration of community, tradition, and fond memories of Putnam County, Missouri. Whether you’re a fellow Midget or simply a lover of good chili, this recipe is sure to bring warmth and joy to your table. Enjoy the rich flavors and the story behind this beloved dish, a true testament to my grandma’s legacy and our shared hometown pride.

What Makes “Midget Magic” Chili Award-Winning?

The secret to the success of “Midget Magic” Chili in local cookoff competitions lies in its perfect blend of flavors and textures. The combination of fresh vegetables, like onions and green peppers, with the hearty richness of ground beef creates a robust base. The addition of garlic adds depth, while the mix of tomatoes, corn, and kidney beans introduces a variety of textures. The seasoning – a careful balance of chili powder, sweet basil, and the special Chilli-O packet – is what truly sets this chili apart, giving it a unique and memorable flavor profile that has consistently impressed judges at competitions.

How Can I Customize “Midget Magic” Chili for My Family?

Customizing “Midget Magic” Chili is easy and allows you to cater to your family’s tastes. If you prefer a spicier chili, consider adding more chili powder or some diced jalapeños. For a milder version, reduce the amount of chili powder and skip the hot spices. You can also experiment with different types of beans or add other vegetables like diced carrots or celery for an extra nutritional boost. If you’re catering to a vegetarian diet, simply omit the ground beef and add more beans and vegetables.

What Are the Best Occasions to Serve “Midget Magic” Chili?

“Midget Magic” Chili is incredibly versatile, making it perfect for various occasions. It’s a great comfort food for a cozy family dinner on a chilly evening. It’s also ideal for larger gatherings like potlucks, picnics, or game day parties, where it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Additionally, this chili makes a fantastic contribution to community events and cookoffs, as evidenced by its history of winning awards.

Tips for Storing and Reheating Leftover Chili

One of the best things about “Midget Magic” Chili is that it tastes even better the next day. For storing leftovers, let the chili cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it in airtight containers. It will keep well for up to 3-4 days. When reheating, do so slowly on the stove or in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating. If the chili seems too thick, you can add a little water or broth to adjust the consistency.

“Midget Magic” Chili is more than just a recipe; it’s a cherished family tradition, a symbol of community pride, and a proven winner in the culinary world. Its rich flavors and heartwarming backstory make it a special dish to share with loved ones and a proud representation of Putnam County’s culinary talent. Whether you’re enjoying it at a family dinner, serving it at a community event, or entering it in a chili cookoff, this recipe is sure to bring warmth, joy, and a taste of home.

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