Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chili - The Best

I've been making this chili for years - fifteen at least, maybe closer to twenty.  I don't pay attention to any other chili recipe because this one is perfect.  And the vegetarian version is great for those times you feel the need to take a beef break, as I sometimes do.  Try both versions.  You'll thank me.

Mmmm... hot chili on a cold day!

Chili - The Best

About 1 pound lean round steak (lean ground beef can be substituted)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 generous tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 generous teaspoon chili powder
1 generous teaspoon ground cumin
1 generous teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce (I like Frank's)
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 15-oz cans chili beans in chili sauce, either hot or mild (Bush brand is good)
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup ketchup
Optional garnishes:  shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, finely diced onions, corn chips

1) Cut round steak into bite-sized cubes and pat dry with paper towel.  Heat Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot.  Add olive oil to Dutch oven and heat until shimmering.  Add beef cubes to hot oil and cook over medium-high heat until browned on all sides, 5-6 minutes.  Remove beef from skillet with slotted spoon.

2) With heat still at medium-high add diced onion to Dutch oven.  Cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes then add minced garlic.  Continue cooking and stirring another 3 minutes then turn heat down to low.  

3) Add cocoa powder, chili powder, cumin, hot pepper sauce and Italian seasoning to onions and garlic.  Stir thoroughly until spices are incorporated.  Mixture will be thick.  

4) Add chili beans and sauce, undrained tomatoes and ketchup to onion mixture, stirring well.  Turn heat up to medium high and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, at a slow simmer, until beef cubes are very tender, about an hour or so.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

Serve with optional garnishes if desired.  Makes about 6 generous servings.

Vegetarian Chili

2 cups finely chopped zucchini - about 2 medium
1 1/2 cups finely chopped carrot - about 2 large

Heat olive oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini and carrot.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.  Continue recipe with Step 2 above and cook until vegetables are tender, about an hour.   


Both versions are great for slow cookers/crock pots:  In large skillet cook beef (or zucchini & carrots) on stovetop in hot olive oil over medium-high heat.  Still in skillet continue with recipe through Step 3 then transfer mixture to slow cooker/crock pot.  Add chili beans and sauce, undrained tomatoes and ketchup. Cook, covered, until beef or vegetables are tender, approximately 4-6 hours.

The addition of unsweetened cocoa powder may seem strange but don't omit it!  It lends a wonderful richness in flavor and color that can't be obtained otherwise.  Trust me.

I usually double the recipe and make a large batch at one time.  If you use a slow cooker make sure the vessel is large enough to hold a double batch.  I have a large, 7-quart slow cooker and a double batch of chili fills it to about 3/4 capacity.  Both versions freeze beautifully.  

No comments:

Post a Comment