I love me a good chili. When the weather turns cold, I can make it at least once a month. I am not, however, some sort of chili purist- I don’t know what “Texas” style really means, or what should or should not go into chili. When I’ve looked to other recipes to find things to try and other ingredients I might want to use, I am always amazed at the amount of work that some people put into their chili. I’ve never participated in a chili cook-off, nor have I attended one (but I’m pretty sure I’d like to!). All I know is what I like: a thick, deeply-flavored chili that’s not too spicy, not too salty, with a nice balance of beans, tomatoes, and beef in each bite.
Some places (restaurants) try to make chili, and usually I’m disappointed. In the last few years I’ve had chili that was really more of a watered down, mildy beefy soup, one that was just a while lot of meat with a little sauce in a bowl, and a delightful one- at a deli on a college campus, of all places- that was a real chili, but with chicken (not ground chicken but chunks of chicken).
My chili, it’s easy. And I highly doubt my list of ingredients is some sort of unique combination. There are many short-cut products one the market today- spice blends, cans of chili, cans of chili beans, etc. I’m not a canned chili kind of girl- except for Cincinnati style, because I’ve yet to attempt that one on my own, but it’s one of my goals for this winter. But, for the sake of convenience, I use a lot of canned ingredients- mostly tomatoes and beans. I usually use the plain varieties, although I know you can buy chili-stated beans, because I want to stay in control of the flavors. If you have tomatoes you’ve canned yourself or you prefer dry beans, go ahead and sub your favorites. That’s the great thing about chili- it can be completely personalized.
Here is my own chili recipe, one that is never exactly the same the next time I make it. It is, for the most part, almost always good, always eaten, and there’s never leftovers for more than a day. All quantities are approximate, and feel free to vary based on you and your family’s tastes.
You will need:
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
at least 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped. If you have other varieties of peppers available to you, you can add them too.
at least 3 cloves of garlic, chopped, shallots too (I added one because I have a ton right now).
chili powder, at least 3 tablespoons
garlic powder, at least a tablespoon
cumin, 2-3 tablespoons
paprika, about 2 teaspoons
3 cans of kidney beans, drained
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
water to rinse out the tomato cans (about a cup or so)
worchestershire sauce, a couple glugs
In a big pot, cook the hamburger until browned.
Add onions, garlic, pepper, and shallots, and some olive oil- if you have garlic olive oil or grapeseed oil, that’s even better. Saute until tender.
This is when I season. I add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and worchestershire sauce at this time and stir it in over a med heat for a couple minutes. I like to think that this cooks in the flavor better, that it’s evenly distributed throughout the entire chili better this way. Granted, I have no scientific research to back this theory up. 🙂
Then I add in the tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and beans.
Give it a good stir, bring to a boil, then turn the heat waaaaaay down and cover. Simmer like this for a good hour or two, stirring a few times.
Taste. Season w/ salt, pepper, more garlic powder, chili powder, etc if needed.
Time to serve!
We like to top our chili in our house! Our favorites: shredded cheese, sour cream, diced raw onions, and FRITOS. Yes. Fritos. ON the chili (or under). It’s delish!
Here’s some pics I gathered from the process, I enlisted the help of my little sous chef:
I gave Elliot my smaller chef knife to use, and he chopped up all the peppers for me (I had cut them into strips first). Then we both conquered the canned goods that needed opening. I’m pretty sure this was his first time using a can opener. He got a little frustrated with it (but hey, so do I, can openers taunt me on a frequent basis), but was very proud of himself when he got his first can open.
And the final product- topped with sour cream, cheddar cheese, diced onions, and fritos!