Homemade Chili

If there were not politics or sports to argue about, many would still argue about chili.  Where it originated, what it does and does not have in it, and how to make it. Texan Chili traditionally never contained beans. But when the depression hit in the 1930s, more and more beans were eventually added to the recipe since they are cheaper and easily replace meat since it has the same protein and chew factor.  This is why there are so many varying recipes. Today there are festivals, fairs and numerous contests all over the United States as to who can make the best chili.

And of course, there are many who hold the recipe as a closely guarded secret.  The best chili I ever had was at the Brookside Diner in Whippany NJ. I asked them for the recipe, but of course I just got an answer as to the obvious “onions, tomato, beans, ground beef”, etc.  Without measurements or the “secret” ingredients it will be hard to get it close to theirs.

This is not terribly complex, just prep everything first and be sure you have 2-3 or more hours to cook it.  It needs no tending to once its all done, all you have to do is wait for it to simmer.

This recipe might not win an award but it is my own personal favorite until I can steal and modify it from other recipes:

  • 1 Can (15oz) Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 Can (15oz) Black Beans
  • 1 Can Beef Broth + 1 Can of spring water (OR 1 teaspoon Better than Bullion plus 2.5 cups of water)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, smashed & chopped
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 1 Small Flame Pepper (or red or orange, flame peppers are both red/orange)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika or Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Small (6 oz) Can Tomato Paste (its hard to get all the paste out anyway, 3-5 ounces will do, )
  • 1 finely diced Jalapeno slice
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 Ounces Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

First gently heat the olive oil and add the chopped garlic.  Once you smell the garlic add in your chopped onion and allow that to get soft and translucent.  Add in your seasonings to toast them a bit.

Next raise the heat but don’t crank it and start browning the ground beef. Continue to stir until its fully brown.

You can deglaze with some apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar if you wish, white wine works just as well.

Next add in the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  Once its all mixed in thoroughly, add beef broth and water, and bring to a simmer.  Add in the beans.  It is going to look soupy but now you wait for at least 2-3 hours.  Keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally.  Add in the light brown sugar about a half hour before you are finished cooking. It should be just slightly sweet, not overly sweet.

From there you can do whatever you love to do with chili. Eat it plain right from a cup or bowl; serve it as a dip with tortilla chips, as a topping on a hot dog or even serve with rice. This is my favorite way… I put it in a crock, top it with cheese, put it under the broiler for a few minutes and serve with tortilla chips, guacamole and whatever else you like.  Hey, it took 2+ hours to cook enjoy it, and it is even better as leftovers!


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