Winner of the Squam Lakes Association Winterfest Chili

The award in question when it comes to the Manor on Golden Pond's now signature chili is that of the Squam Lakes Association's annual Winter Fest Chili Cook-Off, which we recently won for the third consecutive year.

Like all good chili recipes, this one is designed to feed a crowd. Prepared as indicated, it should comfortably feed 15-20 people as a main course. For less robust occasions, simply reduce all measurements to 1/4 of their original.


  • 4 ea. onions, small diced
  • 2 ribs celery, small diced
  • 2 ea. carrots, finely grated
  • 1 bulb fennel, small diced
  • 1 ½ T kosher salt
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter
  • 3-4 T vegetable oil
  • 1 lbs. smoked ham, peeled and small diced
  • 2 ounces chile powder
  • 1 ounce paprika
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 2 T ground allspice
  • 3 T garlic powder
  • ¾ c all purpose flour
  • 1 quart tomato juice
  • 1 liter Moxie (a New England regional soft drink)
  • 1 c red wine vinegar
  • 12 ounces brown sugar
  • ½ T ground thyme
  • 20 – 25 lbs lean, flavorful beefsteak, such as tri-tip, flank, skirt or sirloin flap, well trimmed


  • Combine onions, celery, carrots, fennel, salt and butter in a large, non-reactive pot and sweat over low heat until very tender and aromatic, 30 minutes or more.
  • Over a hot grill, sear all of the trimmed beef so that it is richly browned, with pronounced grill marks.  The intent is only to sear the outside: it should remain very rare.  As it comes off the grill, rest in a watertight container to retain all of the juices it releases.
  • In a large, separate pot, heat 3-4 T vegetable oil to medium-high.  Add the diced ham and sauté until deeply browned, almost burnt.  Remove from the heat
  • Combine the chile powder, paprika, cumin, allspice, garlic powder, and flour. Whisk to combine before sprinkling over the browned ham in an even layer.
  • Return the ham and spices to the flame, stirring to coat.  When the pan is moderately hot and the spices are becoming aromatic, carefully whisk in the tomato juice in a thin, steady stream, carefully deglazing all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the Moxie, wine vinegar, brown sugar and thyme.  Stir to combine and reduce the heat to low.
  • Add the accumulated juices from the resting beefsteak to the pot, and dice the very rare steak into ½ inch cubes.  Add the diced steak to the pot also.  If necessary, add water to the pot as well so that all of the steak is submerged.
  • Stirring often to prevent scorching, increase the heat to medium-high, bringing the chile to a gentle boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and maintain at a simmer until the steak is tender and the chili is thick and a deep red-brown color.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste and serve immediately.