Thursday, November 10, 2011

Making Chili from Scratch

On a cold fall day, why would you want to do anything else? There are endless homemade chili recipes floating around out there, so I would never proclaim this to be the "best chili recipe" - nor would I tell you that it's award winning, because 1.) I've never entered it in a contest and 2.) those contests don't let you use beans, which I find weird and annoyingly elitist. But darn it, it's the best chili recipe for me.

This homemade chili combines elements of some of the most popular types of chili recipes, including Tex Mex, California and Cincinatti. Strange? Not really, especially if you can't decide which one of those you like the most. And, it's such a basic chili recipe that it's perfect for beginners.

Making Chili from Scratch

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 brown onion, chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup beer (or optionally, beef broth)
1-2 serrano chilis (or other fresh chili if preferred), seeded and minced
2 tbs. chili powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tbs. cocoa powder 
1/2 tsp. cumin
15 oz. canned or cooked kidney beans
32 oz. tomato sauce
Seasoned salt to taste

Place ground beef in large pot. Brown ground beef over medium high heat. Remove from heat, drain off fat in colander. Return browned beef to pot, add onions, tomatoes and beer or broth. Cook over medium heat for two minutes. Add serrano (or other fresh) chili, cinnamon, brown sugar, cocoa powder and cumin and stir to combine. Add kidney beans and tomato sauce. Cover and heat until boiling. Once boiling, reduce heat, tilt lid and simmer for two hours or until desired consistency. Add seasoned salt to taste. 

Making Chili from Scratch: Tips 

Too spicy? Add more sugar.
Too sweet? Add more chili powder. 
Want more depth? Add more cocoa powder and/or cumin. 
Leftover ideas: Chili spaghetti, Frito pie, or these incredible from scratch chili cheese fries

Making chili from scratch is an art, not a science. Normally, homemade chili is a forgiving dish that allows you to experiment with the ingredients. Remember, though: You can always add, but you can never take away. Ah, chili: a metaphor for life.

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