Chili

48 Comments

I didn’t have chili, or even hear about it, until I was in my early twenties, after moving to Texas. In “Big D,” it wasn’t long before I was initiated. There still exists a well-known restaurant that specializes in chili, too, called Tolbert’s, that co-workers took me to for my chili introduction. (I thought their chili only adequate…)

The first time I made chili, I followed the recipe in The Great West. It was one of the many books of the Foods of the World series put out by Time-Life a million years ago.
_mg_2058
If I hadn’t made it myself, I might have hated chili. Not to sound horribly critical, but have you ever been to a chili cook-off?!! Oh my. Such terrible chilis. Really inferior meat, chili too often watery, and horribly under-seasoned to top everything off.

But no, I followed a recipe, and fell in love with chili.
_mg_2540
There are a few things about chili about which I feel strongly. The meat, the liquid, and the tomatoeyness.
_mg_2575
First of all, the meat has to be good quality. I’m not saying use beef tenderloin. On the contrary, a good chuck works well. You need some fat, and you need a meat that can hold up to a couple hours of cooking. What I personally don’t like is ground beef. It pretty much dissolves, and you’re left more with a beef sauce than a chili. I like chunks!

Secondly, chili, in my book, should be meaty and thick. That means very little liquid. You need some beef broth in which to cook the beef, but you don’t want to serve the beef drowning in broth. Otherwise, it’s beef soup.

Thirdly, many people think that chili requires lots of tomatoes. Much to the contrary, chili doesn’t have a tomato base to it because it’s not a beef stew – it’s a chili. It’s different.

I might mention a fourth aspect of chili that many people can’t agree on – and that’s the addition of beans. There is the no-bean camp and the bean camp. There is only one reason that I add beans to chili, and that’s the health factor. It’s a no-brainer to me, but good chili is good either way!

Chili

5 pounds beef chuck, trimmed
Oil or bacon fat
Salt and pepper
2 onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground chipotle
2 tablespoons ground New Mexico chile powder
2 tablespoons ground ancho chile powder or 2 tablespoons home-made ancho chile paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, optional
16 ounces beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans kidney beans, drained well, optional

Cut up the beef into small pieces. They don’t have to be perfectly uniform in size.
_mg_2499
Place a large Dutch oven on the stove. Add some oil, and turn up the heat to high. When the oil is hot, begin browning the beef in batches. Add a generous amount of salt, and some pepper. Brown, moving the beef around occasionally, until very little pink remains.


Although browning each batch of meat takes a while and is a tedious process, it has to be done this way. If too much meat is added to the pot at one time, it lowers the internal temperature of the pot, and instead of browning, liquid is produced and the meat poaches instead. We don’t want that.

When meat is nicely browned, remove it to the bowl, and continue with the remaining meat, adding oil as necessary with each batch.

After browning all of the meat, turn down the heat to medium and add a little oil to the pot. Add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes.


Then add the minced garlic, the seasoning, and stir well. The mixture will be dark and rich. Cook it for about one minute.

Then add the beef broth and stir to combine, scraping all the caramelized bits of browned meat that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Carefully return all of the meat to the pot, including any juices that have accumulated. Stir well.
_mg_2521
_mg_2522
Bring the chili to a boil, cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for at least 2 hours. At that time, remove the lid and look at the chili. The beef will have shrunk in volume. If you think there is too much liquid in the chili, raise the heat a bit and let the liquid reduce for maybe 15 minutes or so, uncovered.

Then stir in the tomato paste and the drained beans and heat through. Taste for seasoning. You might need more salt, but taste first!
_mg_2523
There are probably many different opinions regarding what to put on chili. I personally love the addition cheese, and chopped purple onions.
_mg_2534
But sour cream is a lovely addition as well.
_mg_2550

However you serve it, enjoy the richness of the chile peppers and other seasoning that flavor the beef.
_mg_2565

48 thoughts on “Chili

  1. Chef Mimi, I just cut up part of a big chuck roast to make stew, but your recipe has me hankering for chili… even if it is 80 degrees. :) Gorgeous recipe & photos for our gorgeous Autumn weather. (All winter, too!) Thanks for this.

    Like

  2. Even though we no longer cook with meat at our house, I just had to check out your chili recipe because I’ve never seen chili served in a dainty bowl. The photograph totally caught my attention! I’m sure, thirty years ago, I would have made this recipe and enjoyed it immensely. I’ll share it with my meat-eating family members, who are sure to love it.

    Like

    • Two things. My husband doesn’t eat out of a dainty bowl. This amount of chili would be a snack for him! It was only for the sake of the photography. After looking at my chili, I realized it wasn’t very photogenic, and even more of it would look even less appetizing! Thus the small bowls. Secondly, I eat way more avocados than any kind of meat, but I did have a dainty bowl of it for lunch the other day, and it was such a treat, because of the spiciness. But it also reminded me why I rarely eat meat!!! Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mmmm. Yes that spiciness. I plan to adapt all that goodness from your recipe to my meatless chili one of these days, and I totally understand how difficult it is to photograph chili in an appetizing way. I did get a kick out of that lovely china bowl. Such a clever idea!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Mimi my amazing friend I cannot even begin to thank you for putting into words what I have always thought and believed as well. The other aspect that has always irked me about “chili cook offs” what have you is the amount of “heat” that they can and do put into it. I just cannot understand why you would want your mouth on fire…
    Another day, another rant!
    I’m pinning this and sharing ♥

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well I can appreciate that! I don’t think anything should be so hot that it just burns your mouth. But I do believe in a lot of spices and chile pepper in chili. It’s what gives it depth. Mine isn’t hot at all, unless maybe you’re sensitive to chipotle flavor. How do you like potato salad?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I like spices and a little heat, I just don’t like it so hot it burns my mouth and I can’t taste the other spices. Actually, I haven’t tried it with the chipotle flavor but I like that taste. I might have to include that the next time I make chili. I make my potato salad with a combo of red and russet potatoes with more red potatoes. I like my potatoes, JUST done, so they are not so mushy. Along with the boiled eggs, I also add more mustard, dill pickles and a little onion. I also like it a little warm. The only other potato salad I loved was my Aunt. Her family was immigrants from Germany and her dad was a baker. I’m not sure how she made it but I could never replicate it and even when I lived in Germany, I didn’t not find anything like hers. Maybe I loved it because she was a favorite Aunt! :)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting! Did your aunt’s potato salad have an oil and vinegar dressing? That’s the kind I prefer, and my mother always made it that way. She’s from the corn of France close to Germany.

        Like

  4. I think Chili is sometimes regional to the area and people probably started using ground beef because it was cheaper and will make it go further. I don’t mind ground beef but I love to have beans in my chili. Maybe that’s because, like you said, the ground beef kinda disappears. I’ve had it with cornbread but also rice. It’s one of our favorites especially when the weather gets cool. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We are definitely in the “no bean” camp here in Arizona. And I agree with you on every other point you made, too. Growing up in Philly, chili was with ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and was watery. No wonder I didn’t fall in love with it till I came here!

    Like

Please... write something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s