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Chili: A Fall Favorite

In honor of the first day of fall, let’s make a great fall classic: chili. Although the weather here in Florida hasn’t started cooling down yet at all, it’s still nice to get into the fall spirit with this traditional warm and cozy comfort food. It’s great for a warm dinner, for football games or for get-togethers with friends.

Even Rachel Ray is ready to make chili this weekend:

There are so many variations on chili that there is no one right way to make it. Every person has their own secret that makes their way great. That’s why you hear about so many chili contests. Essentially, they all have the same components: meat, beans, veggies, and some sort of sauce, usually tomato-based.

How hard can making chili be? Basically you just dump some cans in a pot and let it sit for a couple hours. Honestly, that’s pretty much it. For our intents and purposes, we aren’t getting too fancy. If you really want to let out your inner culinary genius, try these tips from Fox, which include toasting and then hand-grinding your own herbs. No thanks. You can make a delicious chili without all the bells and whistles. Some recipes swear by using dried beans, fresh herbs, cubed meat, and never using canned tomatoes. But, let’s just do it the easy way, because it still turns out just as delicious, in my opinion anyway.

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For a basic chili you’ll need:

  • Ground beef, usually the fattier the better.
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Green, red, or orange bell peppers
  • Canned beans, some combination of pinto, black beans, kidney beans or white beans
  • Finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • Tomato paste
  • Chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper
  • Garnish: sour cream, shredded cheese, diced peppers

Instructions:

  1. In a large sauce pan, brown the ground beef and season. Once the beef is almost browned, add the garlic, onions and bell peppers to sautee.
  2. Once the veggies are pretty soft, add the canned beans. I also dumped in the juice from the can since I got the seasoned varieties of beans, but that’s up to you. I used pinto, black beans, and kidney beans.
  3. Add the jalapeno and stir everything well.
  4. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Let the chili simmer, covered, on medium heat for around 30 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste and stir well. If needed (especially if you omitted the juice from the beans) add some water to thin out the sauce at this point because it will continue to thicken. Season if necessary.
  7. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes until everything is soft and a thick, rich sauce has formed.
  8. To serve, garnish with sour cream, cheese, and diced peppers.

Tips:

  • Make sure to fully brown the meat before you add the rest of the ingredients. This adds flavor.
  • Season at every step of the way and taste as you go. And don’t leave the seasoning for the last minute, otherwise the flavors won’t mesh together like they should.
  • Don’t rush it. Even though you can make chili in half an hour, doesn’t mean it will really be ready. If you have enough time and a crock pot, letting it simmer for 2-3 hours on a low heat is actually the best method.
  • Even more tips can be found here.

Some non-traditional recipes to try out:

  • White Chicken Chili recipe here.
  • Game Day Beer Chili here.
  • Buffalo Chicken Chili here.

Enjoy your chili, in whatever form it takes!

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