I have heard many people refer to this favorite fall food as chili soup, but I personally think chili is in a category all of its own. It has its own definition and that is simply the word “chili”. Every fall our church has a chili dump where everyone brings their own family chili recipe. The resulting chili has an unique taste to it because no two people fix chili the same. Depending on where you dip the ladle at in the pot will determine whether you hit a hot spot or a mild spot or a spicy spot or bland spot or a combination!
The way I prepare chili nowadays, is far different than how I prepared it when the boys were young. They had an aversion to floaty things in the chili, which severely limited the veggies I could add. However, they never figured out what a sneaky mom I was…ha! I put the onions, celery and green pepper in the blender with the tomato juice and pureed it all! They also did not like any beans but pork’n beans in the chili. Yawn….how boring! Now, I can load up with all the chunky veggies and weird beans that I want! I searched through the fridge and cupboard to see what I had on hand to dump in my chili. I wasn’t sure about the refried black beans with roasted red jalapeno peppers, but the last minute decided the chili was thick enough and I didn’t use them.
Brown 2# lean ground beef. When the boys were young, I never just browned one or two pounds. If I was going to brown one pound, why not brown five pounds? I always kept zipper bags of browned and drained ground beef in the freezer for quick meals.
Remove browned meat and drain to remove excess grease. Save those brown bits on the bottom of your pan, that is where the flavor is! I take a couple paper towels and mop up the extra grease, then add 2 T. olive oil to the pan and sauté your veggies.
When veggies are caramelized, add beef, tomatoes, tomato juice, beans and seasonings. Simmer for a couple hours, but if you don’t have the time, it could be eaten and enjoyed much sooner!
I reserved about half pound of ground beef to put in the freezer.
I seldom make the same recipe, it all depends on what is in my cupboards and fridge. I may add chopped zucchini, corn, jalapenos, different beans and sometimes I omit the meat. If I have extra salsa in the fridge, I will dump that in as well. I make a similar version that includes macaroni. Chili has better flavor the next day and the following day! It also freezes well.
Chili recipes come in all types of colors and flavors depending on what part of the country that you come from. Some people insist on corn bread with their chili. Our son, Curt, has to have peanut butter sandwiches with his. I have seen people add so many toppings to their chili that it totally loses its identity! However, you may enjoy your chili it is a fact that it has made its way into Americans’ hearts homes a long time ago!