As a child, I was never really a fan of chili – likely because I had not yet acquired a sophisticated enough palate to fully enjoy any type of beans. Whenever my Mom made it, she used to dish out a bowl before she put the beans in, and then laughed as I basically ate spaghetti sauce by itself. Since then, my taste buds have evolved to the point where I can tolerate some types of beans, in certain circumstances. Given that I’m not much of a fan of beans, chili doesn’t usually enter my radar screen.
However, sometimes I decide things on a whim; things that may not make sense to most people. Things like…dying my hair really dark brown. Or renting out my house and moving into a commune. Or painting my toenails orange. Or becoming a vegan. Or selling all of my stuff and living out of my car.
Or, in the case of tonight, making chili and instead of picking out all of the beans, liking it just the way it is.
Come join me on my journey 🙂
You’re looking at bacon, onions, red pepper, yellow pepper, celery, mushrooms, garlic, chili powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, cayenne pepper, lean ground beef, stewing beef, red kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato puree.
As with many good things that are born from my kitchen, begin by chopping up 6-8 slices of bacon.
Place the bacon into a very large pot and let it start to crisp up over a medium flame.
Traditionally, chili is made with ground beef. However, if I’m going to eat chili I want to have a little more textural interest, so I grabbed a 1.5 lb package of beef chunks to include.
Cut the chunks into bite-size pieces if needed, and season generously with salt and pepper. BAM!
Next, start chopping up the veggies:
2 stalks of celery…
1 red pepper + 1 yellow pepper…
A handful of mushrooms – I used 8 buttons because they were forgotten in the produce drawer for too long, but you can use whatever you have.
And last but certainly not least, 9 cloves of garlic.
Now that that’s out-of-the-way, it’s time to check on the bacon.
Oooohhh baby – if love had a smell I’m pretty sure this is what it would smell like. In fact, I think I might try to bottle the smell of bacon and market it.
If you don’t hear from me for a few months, it’s probably because I’ve become a millionaire and am living on a tropical Island somewhere while my eau-de-bacon fragrance flies off the store shelves.
Remove the bacon and set it aside, and drain almost all of the fat into a separate dish. Don’t you dare throw it out though!!!
My sources tell me that some people keep a jar of bacon fat in their fridges at all times.
I think I just discovered my New Years resolution. It’s important to have high aspirations in life, you know.
Add about half of the beef chunks to the pan that the bacon just came out of. I know what you’re thinking, and no, you cannot add all of the beef at once to the pot unless you have restaurant-sized cooking vessels at your home. Overcrowding the pot will allow the meat to steam instead of brown, and that would just be gross.
Now – listen up because this is very important – RESIST THE URGE TO STIR! I know that it’s hard, but we want to beef to develop a lovely outer crust and it won’t happen unless we give it it’s space.
After a few minutes though, you can stir. You have my permission.
See what I’m talking about?!?!
Good. Now remove the beef from the pot and repeat the whole process with the remaining beef chunks.
Add the onions, peppers, celery, and mushrooms to the pot, along with a tablespoon or so of the bacon grease if you feel so inclined.
Let everything sweat for about 10 minutes – the vegetables should be softened and starting to brown.
Add 1lb of ground beef and the minced garlic to the vegetables, and continue cooking until the beef is no longer pink.
Let’s talk about spices for a minute, shall we? I wanted the chili to have a balance of flavour but not be too hot for my delicate palate, so I decided to go with cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano.
I used 1/2 T of cumin, but if you like it more than me you could probably add up to 1T. I also only added 2T of chili powder because I figured I could always add more later if it needed it, but once again, if you like things spicier feel free to add up to 1/4 c. A pinch of red pepper flakes and 1t of oregano sealed the deal for me, but if I had had any coriander I would have added a good shake of that too. Oh, and for those of you that want to kick it up yet another notch – add about 1/2 t of cayenne pepper. Go ahead, I dare ya!
Add the spices – whatever they may be – to the chili and give it a good stir while you open up the 4 cans that are going to join the party soon.
Since a chili really isn’t a chili without tomatoes, add 1 large can each of diced tomatoes and tomato puree. I used the biggest cans my grocery store had – 28-oz I believe. I also added 1 can each of red kidney beans and black beans that I drained and rinsed. Oh yes, and I added the cooked beef chunks and bacon back too.
All together now!
Bring it to a boil and then put a lid on it to simmer for an hour or so. After an hour has elapsed (this is very scientific you know) take the lid off and allow it to simmer for another hour or until it’s at a consistency that you can live with. Check for seasonings – too spicy? Too mild? Does it need more salt? Now’s the time to take care of business.
Eat your chili plain if you’re a purist, or top with sour cream, cheese, green onions, cilantro, avacado…well, you get the idea. Here goes nothing…
This chili is super flavourful, hearty, and textually interesting. I really, really like it – I’m just full of surprises aren’t I?!?! Truth be told, this is one dish where I can’t wait for the leftovers, since chili is supposedly better a few days later. It’s official – I’ve been converted.
And that, my friends, is a very good thing.