I can’t think of a better cold weather food to be cooking. Just walk thru the office or any gathering and announce you are cooking chili and see how many people are ready to help you hide evidence.
Chili is heavily linked to the South-Western U.S. and the state of Texas. This is understandable as a source of both the heat and the meat. Chili is also one of those foods where every foodie family has their own recipe and chili cooking competitions are attended far and wide. Personally, I have enjoyed variations that can range from veggie chili to emu chili. As you can tell, this is a dish for your own personal taste and there are a lot of ways to make it.
Let’s just roll with a simple recipe this time.
1 lbs. of ground beef, browned and drained.
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 packet of chili seasoning.
2 onions diced
Basically, throw everything together in a pot, add enough water to cover the contents, set to a low-medium heat on the stove and let it cook. After a couple of hours, you are ready to eat. Yes, this is a great crockpot or slow cooker dish. This also a great one to start out someone just learning the kitchen.
Okay, let’s address a few variations. Meat, does it have to be cow? no. Basically, any browned ground meat is a great place to start. For the legions of fans out there, yes, venision is amazing as the center of a chili. For my veggie fans, course ground portabello mushroom and walnut meats make a very tasty chili that keeps much of the texture of a ground meat.
Almost all chili fans will agree that real chili is heat and meat. Now, I said that to add that beans taste good in that pot as well. If you like beans in chili, go for it. Personally, I like pintos, black beans, or even black-eyed peas. I know, I was surprised too, but black-eyed peas hold that flavor like a champ.
The onion, yes, it matters. I prefer yellow onions because I like the stronger flavor, however, feel free you use the others to meet the flavor profile you are looking for.
The heat, personally, I only cook mildly spiced chili because of the range of people I am normally serving. I will also point out that you can always add heat and spice at serving time but you can’t take it out. I want my diners to individualize their own heat level. This way, everyone gets what they want. What kind of peppers do I use? Paprika is basics then I add chipotle if we are going for basics. If you are looking for variations, and of the Cajun pepper or jerk pepper blends are easy to work with and have great flavor profiles. Basically, the phrase here is add any pepper/heat you want to your level of enjoyment.
Chili seasoning is based on cumin powder. A quickie seasoning mix is equal parts all-purpose flour, cumin powder, smoky paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. There are numerous pre-made mixes, but for the adventurous, dive in and experiment. Trying new options is what makes chili so popular. There is always a new version to try. Enjoy.