Friday, October 27, 2006

World's Best Chili

I'm a Texas girl at heart (though relocated). I grew up eating various forms of chili, and I love most of them. Sometimes, though, people attempt to pass something off as chili and it's just NOT. For example, this deplorable vegetarian product didn't actually contain enough chili powder to taste like anything but canned tomatoes with beans. Bleh. On the other hand, this turkey chili had a very hearty flavor, and was perfect on an organic beef hot dog. However, these canned varieties are only good in certain situations, like in a dip or on a hot dog. If you want a hearty bowl of chili, you have to make it yourself.

I love this recipe. I start with the basic ingredients from my Betty Crocker cookbook recipe, then tweak it. I'm a spoon-by-the-Crockpot kind of chef, tasting and spicing, tasting and spicing. Delicious! So, without further ado, my chili recipe (modified from Betty Crocker):

1 lb meat: ground beef or turkey is okay, but I prefer stew beef (it's more like steak chunks)
1 large onion, chopped (yellow onions are good)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I use the kind in a jar)
1 tablespoon chili powder (to start)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cocoa powder (key!)
sprinkle cayenne pepper to taste
sprinkle Tabasco sauce to taste
1 can (16 oz) diced or chopped tomatoes (NO seasoning!)
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans (I prefer Ranch Style Beans)
1 chopped bell pepper (green or red)

Cook the meat, onions, and garlic in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Throw in Crock Pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn on Crock Pot to low/medium, cover, and cook all day. Taste periodically and add more chili powder, cayenne, or Tabasco to taste. If it's too hot or too thick, add a LITTLE water at a time. As water cooks out of the veggies, it will thin out, so don't add much. Serve in bowls with cheese (if you like), chopped onions (if you like), or over pasta if you're from Cincinnati and are totally weird. Serves around 4-5.

This recipe makes fantastic leftovers. The spiciness will dissipate, so when you microwave it, you may want to add Tabasco.

Note on spiciness/heat: I prefer my chili with a slow burn. I want to eat 2-3 bites before I start sweating. I do NOT want to cry when I put it on my tongue. Other people have different preferences. If you want no-heat, don't add any cayenne or Tabasco. The 1 tbsp chili powder gives it flavor, but shouldn't add much in the way of spiciness. Even my husband can eat this chili, and he's a weenie (sorry, sweetie!).

This recipe is easily modifiable to vegetarian (leave off the meat, and add zucchini and/or tofu) and is easy to double. You could use a stock pot on low/medium on the stove all day in the absence of a crockpot.

PS: Yes, I grew up in Texas (though I don't live there now). Yes, I put beans in my chili. You don't like it, don't eat it.

No comments: