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Kevin from The Office might not be the best with numbers, but in Season 5, Episode 26 ("Casual Friday"), fans learned he's a star in the kitchen — at least when it comes to making chili. The fateful cold open, in which Kevin walked into Dunder Mifflin with a vat full of his pride and joy and subsequently dumped it all over the floor, has stuck with me for years. On top of feeling bad for the poor guy's wasted efforts, I've always wondered whether Kevin's chili was all that he said it was. It turns out, the actor who plays Kevin on The Office, Brian Baumgartner, has a chili recipe of his own. Of course, I had to try it to — at the very least — carry out Kevin's goal of making the chili and actually getting to serve it to others.
Since Kevin never actually reveals his full recipe in the episode, Baumgartner's personal recipe — which he shared on the Bush's Beans website in February 2020 — is a great substitute. If you're looking for a more advanced version (that also takes 12 hours) Entertainment Weekly published a chili recipe "inspired" by the original. However, Baumgartner's method seemed simpler to execute, so that's the one I went with. Plus, from the looks of his Instagram, Baumgartner is just as serious about chili as Kevin Malone is, so I figured I was in good hands.
I'm not a particularly experienced cook (my culinary skills are typically limited to microwaving frozen meals or blending smoothies), so I knew I was signing myself up for a personal challenge when I set out to make this chili. Here's how it turned out:
1. Gather The Ingredients
I ended up ordering all of the ingredients online — one fewer opportunity to mess things up on my end — and everything was delivered to my house the next day. Here's what I got:
- 1 can (16 oz) pinto beans, undrained
- 1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, undrained
- 1 lb lean ground turkey, undrained (lean ground beef also works)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 tbsp butter (or cooking oil)
- 1 cup shallots, chopped
- 1 cup green peppers, chopped
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ancho chili powder
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp sugar
- Shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup per serving)
2. Cut 1 Cup Each Of Shallots & Green Peppers
This is embarrassing to admit, but before trying this recipe, I didn't actually know what a shallot was. Turns out, it's basically a small type of onion. But don't let size fool you; these things are just as tear-inducing as normal onions. Halfway through chopping, my eyes looked like I had just watched Michael Scott's final episode of The Office.
(FYI, it takes about two shallots and one large green pepper to get one cup of each ingredient.)
3. Sauté Shallots & Green Peppers With 1 Tbsp Of Butter Until Soft
For this step, I put my pot on the stove and let it heat up a bit before adding the butter. Then, I added the green peppers and onions to sauté it "until soft," per the directions. TBH, I thought this step would take much longer than it actually did. I looked away for two seconds to check Instagram (classic) and everything was burnt, so I had to start again. It only set me back about five minutes, but still — keep your eye on those onions.
4. Add 1 Lb Ground Turkey & 1 (Or 2) Cloves Of Garlic
This step was pretty easy. I opened up the package of lean ground turkey and mixed it into the pot with the peppers and onions to cook. Instead of mincing my own garlic, I used the pre-minced stuff from the store (which I highly recommend if you want to keep things easy). I love garlic, so instead of using just one clove's worth of minced garlic, I used two. Once the turkey was browned, I drained the excess fat and moved on to the next step.
5. Add Everything Else
Another reason I love this recipe — besides feeling like Kevin would be proud of me — is that it's honestly really easy. In this step, I just threw all of the remaining ingredients (except for the cheese) into the pot. Then, I gave it all a stir, brought it to a boil for about one minute, then I covered the pot with a lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
6. Top With Cheese
After 20 minutes of scrolling on my phone while my chili simmered, I turned off the stove and took the pot off the heat. With all the ingredients packed inside, it was pretty heavy, so I can totally see why Kevin dropped his big vat of chili in the Dunder Mifflin office. Luckily, I made it from my kitchen to the dining room without a spill.
I found my nicest white bowl, spooned in two ladles full of chili, and topped it with shredded cheddar for a final touch.
Then came the moment of truth. I didn't think I'd look up to Kevin — for any reason, ever — but if his chili from The Office tastes anything like this stuff, he is my new idol. The cheese on top was a great touch (it always is), and I could taste all of the spices in the sauce. However, if I make this recipe again, I'll be sure to chop the vegetables more finely so I can eat smaller spoonfuls. But other than that, I was pleased. I even force-fed some to my boyfriend at 10 a.m. (this is my day job, OK?), and he seemed pretty happy with it. Nice.