Everyone needs a great chili recipe
Chili has been a staple in my house since my kids were little. After 20 years of making the same recipe, I tried changing it up a bit. My daughter Margo was aghast when she tasted my tweaked recipe. "Why would you mess with perfection?" So there you go. Here is my original recipe.
I make a huge caldron of chili, and freeze bags of it for a quick meal when there is not time to prepare dinner. Frozen chili was particularly useful when my kids were in multiple after-school sports and activities. I'd swoop everyone up after ballet/soccer/baseball/tennis/sailing practice. Come home, thaw a big bag of chili, put some rice in the rice cooker and cut up some fresh vegetables and voila...a healthy home cooked meal in 15 minutes.
Heavy on the veggies
I have consciously tried to pack in a lot of extra vegetables in this one-pot meal. In addition to the standard onions, beans and tomatoes, I have added bell peppers, zucchini and corn.
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Heavy on the meat
As this recipe evolved, my son Ryan entered his teenage years and he asked me to throw in more meat. So I went from ground beef to a combination of stew meat and turkey Italian sausage. The trick is slow-cooking the chili until the stew meat becomes fork-tender.
Heavy on the garnish
In addition to the veggies in the chili, I like to garnish my chili with a lot of fresh chopped veggies. Almost to the point where you have a small salad on top of the chili. I like to add: chopped cucumbers, red peppers, avocado, green onion, cilantro and romaine lettuce. You can also add a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of grated cheese if you wish. Growing up in Hawaii, we always ate chili and rice. So when I serve chili, I often make a big pot of Japanese rice and put a scoop in the bottom of the bowl before I add the chili. A few tortilla chips on top are also nice.
Make it in quantity
I generally make three times the recipe below. There is not much more work in making a triple batch and chili freezes beautifully. After 20-plus years of making big batches of chili, I have never had to throw any extras out. Nothing goes to waste. Even now that my children are all adults, they will gladly take a bag or two of chili home to their apartments.
- Start by toasting whole cumin and coriander seeds and grinding them in a molcajete or mortar and pestle. You can take a short cut and use pre-ground spices. For more information on how to use a molcajete see my blog post.
- Use a food processor to chop your garlic and onions and it will save you a lot of time.
- See my post on how to cut corn from the cob.
- The chili benefits from long, slow cooking. You can rush it and it will still be good, just not as great. If I only have an hour, that is how long I cook it for. If I have the time, I cook it for about three hours.
- Adjust seasonings to your heat tolerance. The heat in this recipe is fairly mild.
- Freeze leftovers in ziplock bags. Make sure to let the chili cool before putting it into freezer bags.
- 1.5 T whole cumin
- 2 t whole coriander seeds
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound beef stew meat
- 1 pound mild turkey italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 28-ounce can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 14-ounce can cannellini white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 14-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 cup or so of dry red wine or water
- ¾ ounce of chili powder
- 2 T dried basil
- 2 T dried oregano
- 2 zucchini, sliced in half and then chopped into half-circle pieces
- 2 ears fresh corn, slice kernels off
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with diced avocado, cucumber, red peppers, cilantro, green onion, sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips
- Over medium heat, toast your whole cumin and coriander seeds in the pot you will cook your chili in. Stir frequently so they don't burn. This only takes a minute or two. Remove seeds from pot and put in a molcajete or mortar and pestle. Grind the toasted seeds to a powder and set aside.
- Put olive oil in the bottom of a medium hot pan and add onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add ground cumin and coriander and cook another 5 minutes until everything is soft.
- Push onion mixture to the side of the pot and add beef stew meat and sausage meat. Brown meat, stirring for about 15 minutes, until the meat is no longer pink. If there is a lot of rendered fat in the pan, pour off most of it.
- Add chopped tomatoes and wine, beans and roasted peppers. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and add chili powder, basil, oregano and zucchini. The vegetables and meat should be covered in liquid. If not, add more wine or water. Cook on low heat for 1 to 3 hours. Stir frequently and deeply as beans will stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When you are ready to serve, add the corn kernels and cook for another 5 minutes. If you want to serve Hawaiian-style, put a scoop of rice in your bowl before you add the chili. Garnish with chopped vegetables of your choice, grated cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.