Who doesn't love a good chili....with some good heat to give you the sweats, or topped with Fritos or on a good dawg? The greatest thing about this recipe is that you can use any type of meat or even all veggies and you might not even know the difference! I typically make mine with ground turkey for a healthier version, and it also lets you use all those old vegetables you have sitting in the fridge that need to be eaten before they go bad. For the chili purists, yes technically this is a 'stew' because I add beans to make it hearty.
You can follow this recipe as a one pot meal but I prefer to remove each set of items after they are done so it doesn't crowd the pot and allow for proper browning of the foods. I like to include mushrooms in my chili to give it a meatier flavor if you are not using beef or all veggies. You can double up the recipe to make a huge batch and freeze leftovers, they still taste amazing when you thaw it to eat later.
1 lb ground beef/lamb/turkey/chicken
1 medium onion diced
3 garlic cloves minced (if you love garlic like me feel free to add more!)
Ground Black Pepper
Canola or Olive Oil
1 small carrot grated
3-4 stalks of celery diced as small as possible
1 can of diced tomatoes or 4-5 small fresh tomatoes
1 can of tomato sauce
2-3 ancho chilies (round fine) or you can use 1-2 pieces of canned chipotle finely chopped (these add a smoky flavor, but you can omit this if you don't want heat in the chili)
Chili spice mix - 2 parts Chili powder, 1 part cumin, 1 part - paprika, garlic powder, onion powder (or you can use a premixed blend). You will use 2 Tbsp of the spice mix for this chili
1 8oz package of mushrooms diced small
1 can of your favorite beer - a stout like Guinness is good for a deep rich flavor
1 can of black beans (or whatever type of bean you prefer)
sour cream, cheddar cheese, sliced jalapenos, diced red onion, corn chips, cilantro
Lets get cooking
1. A heavy pot like cast iron would be the best choice to maintain heat and get good browning. Using medium high heat on the stove, add 1 Tbsp of oil to the pot and add the onion, carrot, and celery (also known as a mirepoix). Keep them stirring, and add a pinch of salt, and keep cooking until they get translucent and soft (about 6-10 minutes). In my version, I had a bunch of sweet peppers about to go bad, so I threw those in with the other veggies.
2. Add the garlic in, then the mushrooms. I had removed the onion mixture so I have space in the pan to cook the mushrooms (in a tsp of oil) since they require a lot of heat to release moisture add get browned. They will start releasing water after about 1-2 minutes, then keep stirring and add another pinch of salt to the mushrooms and keep stirring until most of the water is evaporated from the pot. If you are using fresh tomatoes, add them now so you can add some depth to the tomatoes by browning them up some.
3. At this point, I remove the items in the pot and put them in a large bowl so I can use the same pot to brown the meat, but you can keep them in and add the meat if you prefer to wash less dishes later. By removing the other items, it allows you to have all the space in the pot to properly brown the meat and develop fond (the brown bits on the bottom of the pan) which gives you a deeper flavor.
4. Add 1/2 Tbsp oil to the pot and allow the pot to get fairly hot so you can sear your meat. Add the meat in, then try not to stir until after at least 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to season the meat. I like to keep my meat chunky so I don't break it up too much as I stir it around. When the meat is browned, add the chili spice mixture and coat the meat evenly with the spice mix. Once the pot has lost most of its moisture from the meat, you can add the beer in to deglaze the pot. You can also use some leftover red wine to give it a super rich flavor. Once you add the liquids, scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the brown bits off which will start to build thickness for the chili.
5. Now it is time to bring it all together! Add back the mushroom/onion/carrot/celery mixture back with the meat. Mix that together then add the can of diced tomatoes, black beans with the liquid, and then the tomato sauce. If you are using the ancho or chipotle chili, add those in now too. The chili should be slightly soupy at this point. I threw in some leftover brisket as well for a smoky flavor.
6. Put a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to simmer, and let it cook for at least 15 minutes, but at least 30 is best. Be sure to stir every so often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. If you have too much liquid 15 minutes into the simmering process, leave the lid off to reduce the moisture. Also taste the chili at this point to make sure you have enough seasoning, if its missing salt, add another pinch or 2 more and stir then taste again. I added some fresh diced jalapeno at the very end for additional heat. The final result should look similar to below and have a thicher texture.
For the final plating, I place the chili in a bowl and top with sour cream, cheddar, jalapeno slices, some diced red onion, and a few cilanto leaves for garnish. Some people like to serve chili on top of cornbread, or a bowl of rice.
To make 'Frito Pie' you would just put a scoop or 2 of chili, cheddar, red onion, and sour cream, on top of a handful of frito chips.
Taco Bell used to have Frito burritos which we used to make at home sometimes. To do that put chili, sour cream, cheddar, fritos, and diced red onion in a flour tortilla...soo goood!