I am not a great cook, nor do I love to spend hours cooking. However, I am a great eater. Even so, as I age it has also become more difficult for me to spend hours eating.
Chili has been one of my favorite cold weather meals for more than 25 years and this recipe is the one I’ve used for that entire time. Every once in a while I change a few little pieces about it, but generally its been the same the entire time!
The way you start is up to you…I like to sip on something that makes all the strict proportions more flexible (pic 1) and gives me an excuse if I miss putting in two of something and only get in one…can of beans, jar of tomatoes, etc…the old “double vision” thing, you know…
As I was insinuating above, I usually make double batches so there are two of everything, basically. I start by by sauteing two halves of a yellow onion…in other words a whole yellow onion. When that’s done, I brown two pounds of hamburger and drain it well. There’s nothing worse than that orange congealed lard on top of the Tupperware container of left over chili.
Now the heavy lifting is done and its time to exercise your can opening wrist! Open two cans of red kidney beans; the brand isn’t too important, but I like Bush’s beans. I drain them, but it isn’t a requirement if you prefer keeping the juice and some additional flavor. Then open two cans of chili hot beans; again, I prefer Bush’s. Don’t drain these because, in this case, the sauce has a lot of flavor. Then, if at all possible, open a quart jar of home canned tomatoes. This adds great flavor, but I know it isn’t a staple in everyone’s pantry. If I don’t have home canned tomatoes, I use a large can of stewed tomatoes. I typically drain these as well. I add two jars of Hunts or Heinz Chili Sauce and then, since I drained all those cans of beans and tomatoes, I add about a quart of tomato juice.
The final thing I do is add chili powder. The fresher the better and there are also numerous different kinds out there. I tend to favor a milder, sweeter flavor, so I try to make sure the mixture has some cumin and oregano in it. I have learned over the years how to add the spice to the top of the chili at the end and simply observe the way the top of the mixture looks to know when I have added about enough spice. For this amount of chili, I think most people are safe putting in 1 – 2 tablespoons of powder, but beyond that you’re better off seasoning to taste. Remember, its easier to add more chili powder than to reduce the heat of your concoction.
Finally, the part I like best, the eating. Generally I go for simplicity. A steaming hot bowl of chili with a sleeve of saltines and a glass of cold milk (don’t try this at home if you’re lactose intolerant…unless you have the weekend to recover). If you’re really okay with dairy there are a couple other things that can be added. A little shredded sharp cheddar is really good, and / or maybe a nice dollop of sour cream. If you’re a kitchen connoisseur, try adding some chopped up chives as well and if the mixture isn’t hot enough, a liberal dosing of chili pepper flakes might do the trick.
Finally, the clean bowl, empty sleeve and empty glass. Hopefully you have plenty of single or double serving Tupperware containers, because you’ll be eating this double batch for the rest of the week. Enjoy!