Tailgating with Chef Dean Cacciatore


With football season upon us, we ask Dean Cacciatore, chef owner of Cacciatore Catering, to share some of his best recipes for tailgating. Now in his 21st year as the cater of the President’s sky box at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about feeding football fans.

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1 (1-pound) bag dried garbanzo beans, picked over and rinsed

2 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck

2 pounds ground pork

2 pounds, peeled and deviened large shrimp, 21/25 count

3 large bell peppers of assorted colors, chopped

2 large onions, chopped

1/2 cup chili powder

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 (28-ounce) can plus 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juice

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream for garnish


  1. Soak the dried beans according to the package directions and drain. In a pot, combine the beans with enough water to cover by two inches. Bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans until almost tender, about an hour. Best to prepare the beans the night before, cool and toss with little extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate.
  2. Set an eight-quart heavy gauge pot over mediumhigh heat. In batches, add the beef and pork. Cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until well browned (don’t crowd the pot or the meat will steam, not brown). Transfer each batch to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
  3. Heat the drippings in the same pot over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onions, chili powder, cumin seeds, and oregano; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the reserved meat, and simmer for one hour. Add the beans and simmer until the chili is thickened and the beans are tender, about an hour longer. Stir in the parsley, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
  4. In a separate cast iron pan, flash the shrimp with little olive oil for one minute on each side, season with little salt and pepper and place two or three in bottom of bowl before serving chili over top. Garnish each serving with onion, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.

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