December is here and the cold has arrived! Today I kept my earmuffs with me just in case the walk home would yield frostbite :). No, I wasn’t going to wear them, but just in case :). I’ve been thinking about making some chili for a few days now but today it felt right. I needed the warmth and the comfort it brings.
I know when some people think of chili they think of Wendy’s 99 cent menu or some tailgating party. But, I find it to be more nourishing and satisfying and actually quite healthy. I mean, unless you use fatty meat and pile on the oil, I think chili could be considered a health food. It’s full of protein and you can doctor it up any way you wish. Use lean ground beef, or ground turkey/chicken, keep it vegetarian, or even vegan.
The chili I make is not a traditional chili con carne made famous by chili cook-offs and the like. Mine is just my own take on a somewhat iconic American dish. I love that there’s no hard and fast rule to chili and that’s the way all cooking should be. If you like it add it, if you don’t leave it out. There are no precise measurements here, don’t fret if you add 1 teaspoon more of cumin, don’t worry everything will be alright. Even if you think you can’t cook, you CAN cook chili, even without the “XYZ chili seasoning packet.”
1 onion, roughly chopped
6-7 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (seeds removed if you like)
4 sprigs of thyme
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 chipotle pepper with the adobo sauce
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes chopped finely or crushed/diced tomatoes
2 heaping tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock if the chili gets too thick
Handful of chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat a large pot to medium heat and add the oil, sweat the onions for about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add in the jalapenos, garlic, and thyme and allow to cook for about 10 more minutes or until the onions or almost light brown. Add in the meat and all of the spices and use a spoon to break up the meat so it can distribute evenly and be smooth. Stir for a minute or two and add in the tomato paste and chipotle peppers and combine them with the meat. Add the beans and the large can of tomatoes. Mix everything together and allow to simmer on medium-low for about an hour. Check occasionally, if it gets too thick add the chicken or vegetable stock. The consistency should be like a stew. At about 45 minutes throw in the handful of cilantro and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Before serving remove the thyme stems.
red onions, cilantro, scallions, jalapenos, limes, avocado, sour cream, creme fraiche, cheese (monterey jack, cheddar, cojita, or anything you like), tabasco, salsa, and the list could go on.
I’m all about the garnish! Don’t feed me chili without garnishes or I will be throughly disappointed!