A Burger Expert Points to This Chili as a Go-To for Leftover Ground Beef

Variations on a theme from the author of ‘Hamburger America’ and founder of the 13th annual Food Film Festival

Heated Editors
Published in
5 min readOct 22, 2019


Photo by George Motz

George Motz — who co-founded and directs The Food Film Festival, which begins Thursday in New York City — is a filmmaker, author, and burger enthusiast: He is the creator of “Hamburger America,” available in both book and documentary forms. Here, he shares with Heated what he does with excess ground beef, which appears frequently in his kitchen. On the next cool and rainy night — perfect weather for watching a movie — Motz wants you to consider making this bowl of chili.

By George Motz

As you may know, I make a lot of burgers, and sometimes I have leftover ground beef. That beef goes into other recipes of mine, like taco filling, Coney sauce, and cottage pie. But for the most part, extra fresh ground beef finds its way into my mother’s family-famous chili: Mama’s Kiss Ass Chili Con Corny.

Let me just get this out of the way — this recipe is “award-winning” thanks to me. Sorry to brag, but in a room full of 36 very talented chefs, my mother’s chili, our go-to spicy meal at the dinner table growing up, was deemed the best. The moment was compounded by the fact that Mama herself was standing right next to me when my name was called.

In reality, at this point it’s not really her recipe anymore. Like all chili recipes (or any recipe for that matter) it has been altered over the years to create the perfect super chili. My version today, which has made over 30 years of dinner table appearances, is complex, smoky, deep, and not too spicy. And it’s award-winning, don’t forget.

All of my siblings and their respective others and partners are no strangers to the kitchen. A potluck meal at my mother’s house may appear casual, but the food presented is usually off the charts. Every meal that involves my family is one to remember, and we seem to eat and drink together often. One Thanksgiving, not to be outdone by my siblings, I chose to rotisserie cook a 28-pound turkey on a pig spit for seven hours over charcoal. The result was an insanely tasty bird, but I’m never doing that again — it was an immense effort…