Richard Zack organized a Bug Buffet as part of his Entomology 101 course for about 20 years. One of the mainstays of the insect-eating event was his cricket chili.
“It’s a kind of standard chili recipe,” he says.
Then he would add the insects.
“I would buy like 10,000 crickets,” says Zack, now the associate dean for academic programs at WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.
He’s no longer teaching the class nor hosting the famed Bug Buffet. But, here, he offers his cricket chili recipe for readers who might want to try it at home. It’s based on 2 pounds of ground beef. He used to make several batches at a time.
From Richard Zack
2 pounds of lean hamburger meat
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 green, red, yellow or orange pepper, chopped (Zack likes to mix colors when he makes a double or triple batch)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans of diced tomatoes (16-oz. each)
1 can of tomato sauce (15-oz.)
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (15-oz.)
1 cup water
4 to 5 jalapeño peppers, chopped
¼ cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground red pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
500 crickets, 2 to 3 weeks old
Shredded cheddar, chopped green onions, and tortilla or corn chips, optional, for serving
Cook meat over medium heat in a large pot until browned. Drain off excess fat. Add onion, pepper, and garlic, cooking until onion is translucent. Add all other ingredients, and simmer for several hours, adding more chili powder and red or black pepper, to taste, as needed. Serve with cheddar, green onion, and tortilla or corn chips, as desired.
Note: These crickets are live-ordered live, then frozen. Rinse then in water several times before adding them to the chili. Smaller, immature crickets are better. If adult crickets are used, be sure to remove the legs and wings. Immature crickets do not have wings and the legs are less developed and do not need to be removed.