This recipe is a really good starting point for someone new to making chili. Chili is as old as the cowboys riding on the plains and as varied as the cooks that make it. It can be a sophisticated process and mix of ingredients like what happens on the chili cook off circuit in Texas or as simple as throwing some ingredients in a pot on a Sunday afternoon for a bowl of chili during the game.
Chili with Cheddar Cheese and Fritos
There are some common themes to keep in mind but by no means be bound by them. What we are discussing here is a beef based red chili, the kind you would order in a diner or use as the base for making Frito pie or chili cheese dogs. All chilis in this recipe class will contain ground beef, chopped onion, chopped peppers, chili powder, some blend of other spices, chicken and/or beef stock, water and tomatoes of some sort. And this recipe is deliberately pretty mild, i.e. there are no really hot peppers, powders or sauces included. See the Make It Mine section for more on that.
If you want to get a sense of how many variations you can come up with, just take a quick look at the Mild Bill's Spices
website and remember that each combination of chili peppers you use creates a new version of chili. Take a moment and look at the Championship recipes and you come away with the understanding that people spend a lot of time on chili. We're not recommending that here but if you get hooked, good luck!
One note on chili cookoffs, they never use solids like onion or garlic. It is always powders. We are not bound by that here so when you look at those recipes the only solid in the chili is meat. That's a judging thing. The other thing to remember is their goal is to have someone take one taste of their chili, not eat a bowl of it so those recipes tend to be very intense. Again, not what we are after here.
So let's get going. All the ingredients here are designed to be readily available at your local grocery store. Above all have fun and please share with us your comments and we will add your suggestions to the Make It Mine section at the end of the recipe. Enjoy!
1. First, mix the chili powders, salt, cumin, smoked paprika and brown sugar together in a bowl. You will be adding them all at once so you don't want to be measuring as you are cooking.
Spices Ready to Go
2. If you are grinding your own beef, it is best to cut it in strips to go into the grinder and then put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to firm it up. It tends to grind better rather than just mashing up which it can do when it is warm. Also, I like to grind it through a 3/8" grinding plate which is what is commonly used for sausage making, rather than the smaller plate which is used for hamburger. But that is merely a preference.
Sirloin Tip Steak Ready for Grinding
3/8" Sausage Grinding Plate
Fresh Ground Beef
3. In a dutch oven, saute the meat in 1 T vegetable oil until just cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Do not brown the meat, we want to cook it just until there is no more red in the meat. In chili speak this is called graying the meat. Drain the meat into a colander and set it aside.
Cooked Beef in the Colander
4. Wipe out the dutch oven with some paper towels.
5. Heat the dutch oven over medium heat and add 2 T of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and the poblano and jalapeno peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Again, we don't want any browning here.
Add Onions and Peppers
Onions and Peppers Cooked
6. Stir in the spice mix and cook, stirring constantly for about 20-30 seconds.
7. Add the beef/chicken broth, water and the tomato sauce and stir to thoroughly mix everything and remove any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
8. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 3 minutes.
Add Liquids and Boil
9. Add the cooked beef to the boiling mix in the dutch oven.
10. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 1 1/4 hours, partially covered, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick.
11. Add the beans and stir them in.
Kidney Beans Washed
12. Bring the chili back up to a gentle boil and cook uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. If you find it is starting to stick to the bottom you can add a little more water. If you add more water to your chili, just be sure to add it 1/4 cup at a time so as not to make it too watery.
13. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.