Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Chili

Come September, I think I make this chili at LEAST once a week. It is great as leftovers, can be frozen and is so easy to make. There's a lot of "eyeballing" amounts here, so take my measurements with a grain of salt.

1.3 - 1.5lbs of ground chuck - using ground chuck is important in my opinion. It stays moist and tender when you brown it.
1 med. yellow onion, diced
1 can hot chili beans
1 can of chili ready diced tomatoes (I like using Red Gold)
1 small can of tomato paste (to thicken)
1 bottle of tomato juice
1-3 Tbsp Chili Powder (depending on spice level)
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper, or to taste (optional)
1/2 Tbsp. Brown sugar (optional)

1. Brown ground beef in stock pot. When 95% done, drain off fat. Set ground beef aside.
2. Add diced yellow onion to the pot, sauteeing until nearly translucent/soft. Taking this step helps to prevent biting into crunchy onions in your chili. If you like crunchy onions in your chili, you don't have to sautee as long.
3. Add ground beef back to pot.
4. Add beans, diced tomatoes, and half can of tomato paste.
5. Add tomato juice; reserve a couple of cups of the juice. If you over-season or over-thicken the chili, you can use this left-over juice to de-spice or thin it out.
6. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper. I always add about a tablespoon to tablespoon and a half of Chili powder to start, kind of eyeballing the powder. I like to see little flecks of the spices in the chili. I add more as I taste and go along. Cayenne pepper is added to taste. Add brown sugar at this point. The brown sugar gives it a little bit more round flavor, but I don't think it's necessary. Most times, I leave it out.
7. Let it simmer!
8. If the chili looks to thin for your taste, you can add more tomato paste.

The picture here, my chili is served on a bed of Fritos Scoops and a dollop of sour cream.

Some notes on this:

  • Chili powder adds a nice smokieness and a bit of heat to the chili. To make the chili spicier (rather than smokier), add the cayenne pepper.
  • I usually end up using about 1/2 to 3/4 of a small can of tomato paste to thicken my chili. Kind of depends on how thick I want it.
  • This recipe can be stretched with macaroni noodles. I'd cook the noodles until al dente separately, then drain, add to chili and let them simmer in the chili. If you do this, I'd keep the chili thinner by adding less tomato paste.
  • Similarly, I sometimes boil spaghetti noodles separately, then when finished cooking, drain the noodles, add chili to the spaghetti pot and saute the noodles with the chili!
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