A Chili Full of Soul, Spice, Rich Flavors & Comfort

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To post my chili recipe or not to post my chili recipe?  That was the question.  I mean, on one hand it’s just chili – a bubbling pot of beef, veggies and a variety of spices.  Simple in theory but complex in flavor.  Not all that intimidating, right?  On the other hand – people have spent their lives dedicated to perfecting the craft of simmering just the right mixture of meat, combining the best vegetables to enhance the base, calculating the precise spice blend to bring just enough heat to warm you through while sending a twinge of smoke through your tastebuds.  There are awards, medals, prize money dedicated solely to mastering the craft of ‘chili’.

My chili doesn’t come with any gold ribbons, certificates of excellence or cash rewards.  It’s really not that complicated.  What it does offer is a hearty stew of rich flavors of comfort.  Warm, delicate notes of spice round out every bite and will leave you soothed and content.  It was this feeling of satisfaction that emboldened me to offer my chili recipe up to the blogosphere.  Is it the world’s best?  No.  But will it warm your soul and please your tastebuds?  Absolutely.

It all begins with the meat.  I like using ground chuck because it has a great mix of both fat and flavor.  Warm a heavy bottom pot over medium heat.  Add one tsp olive oil and one pound ground chuck.  Sprinkle with three quarters of a tsp salt, one quarter of a tsp freshly ground black pepper and brown until cooked through.  Remove the meat to a bowl and discard all but two tbs of the fat in the pan.

Now for our veggie base.  Saute three quarters of a cup diced red pepper, three quarters of a cup diced green pepper and one cup of diced onion in the remaining oil, over medium heat, for five to ten minutes until very soft, adding one half tsp of salt to help the vegetables sweat and break down.

We’ve got a great veggie base going, but need to spice things up.  Add one finely minced jalapeno to the pot along with three cloves minced garlic.  Saute for one minute, until fragrant.  Next, mix one finely chopped chili in adobo sauce along with one tsp of the sauce into the veggies.  These chilis are wonderful and slightly smokey in flavor.  They give nice depth but are also VERY spicy.  I only recommend using one chili but, for the brave, throw a second in and give it a whirl.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Up next: one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes with their juices and two 15 ounce cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed.  Top things off with four ounces of tomato paste and mix until combined.

One of the best things about a good bowl of chili is the complexity of flavors that play across your tongue.  This is all thanks to the right combination of herbs and spices and I have found success with the following mix: two tbs ground oregano, two tbs ground cumin, one tsp cayenne, one tsp chili powder and one quarter tsp salt.

Add the meat back to the pot with the spices and mix until well blended.  I grew up eating hearty, thick chili that my Mom made and really prefer it all on it’s own, no noodles required.  But feel free to adjust the liquid base to your preference.  I actually add three quarters of a cup of water to thin things out just a bit.  If you would like to give it more of a ‘soup’ consistency, I would recommend adding a mix of beef broth and water, keeping the flavor intact along the way.

Once the water has been added and the chili is sufficiently mixed, it is time to sit back and wait, letting it simmer away over low heat as the flavors concentrate.  Allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often.

Just before serving add one half of a cup of freshly chopped cilantro.  This kick of freshness brightens the pot and adds that herbaceous note that is so wonderful.  Serve piping hot with your favorite toppings.  I prefer freshly grated cheddar cheese, green onions, more cilantro, sour cream and avocado.  Enjoy the change of season and relax.  It’s time for chili.

Serves Six

  • one pound ground chuck
  • three quarters tsp kosher salt
  • one quarter tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • three quarters cup diced red bell pepper
  • three quarters cup diced green bell pepper
  • one cup diced onion
  • one half tsp kosher salt
  • one jalapeno, minced
  • three cloves garlic, minced
  • two 15 ounce cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • one 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • four ounces tomato paste
  • one chili in adobo sauce plus one tsp adobo sauce
  • two tbs ground oregano
  • two tbs ground cumin
  • one tsp cayenne
  • one tsp chili powder
  • one quarter tsp kosher salt
  • three quarters cup water
  • one half cup cilantro plus additional for garnish
Garnish:
  • green onions
  • freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • cilantro
  • sour cream
  • avocado
Warm a heavy bottom pot over medium heat.  Add one tsp olive oil and the ground chuck.  Sprinkle with three quarters of a tsp salt, one quarter of a tsp freshly ground black pepper and brown until cooked through.  Remove the meat to a bowl and discard all but two tbs of the fat in the pan.  Saute the red pepper, green pepper and onion over medium heat for five to ten minutes until very soft, adding one half tsp of salt to help the vegetables sweat and break down.
Add the jalapeno and garlic to the pot.  Saute for one minute, until fragrant.  Next, mix one finely chopped chili in adobo sauce along with one tsp of the sauce into the veggies.  Follow with the crushed tomatoes, beans and tomato paste. Return the meat to the pot and add the spices: ground oregano, ground cumin, cayenne, chili powder and kosher salt.  Mix until well blended.
Add the water and let simmer over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often. Just before serving add one half of a cup of freshly chopped cilantro.  Serve piping hot with your favorite toppings.
Lindsey McClave
Lindsey McClave has a deep love for food, wine and travel. While she has no intentions of becoming a chef or a sommelier and doesn't consider herself an expert in any culinary area, she is obsessed with learning.

She says, "the one thing I've taken away from my wine travels is that wine is meant for everyone - rich, poor, and everywhere in-between.” Whatever cooking becomes to you, she encourages you to find that foodie place, embrace it and run with it.
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