Get ready for a big spicy spoonful of chili! In the winter, give me chili with cornbread and cabernet; in the summer I’ll have chili with tortillas and tequila (or cold beer). What a flavorful, succulent meal it is! You’ll find chili everywhere, north, south, east and west; in cookbooks, food magazines and websites (like this one), with many of those authors claiming to divulge “the authentic” recipe. Particularly in the Southern US, chili recipes provoke discussions almost as heated as the peppers they contain. But, I’m ready to jump into the fire, by sharing with you my husband’s favorite recipe. It’s not the hottest or the spiciest chili you’ll find, but it’s meaty, delicious and the best he’s ever encountered. He made it for me for the first time when we started dating and we’ve cooked it together many, many times since then.
DOWN HOME DIG-IN CHILI
(from Bon Appetit, 1988)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 lbs stewing beef, chopped
2 lbs pork shoulder (Boston butt), chopped
4 cans (14 1/2 ounce) stewed tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
salt and pepper to taste
1 bottle pale ale (12 ounce)
7 Tbs chili powder
4 jalapeno chilies, seeded
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
Hot pepper sauce (Tabasco type), to taste
Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add finely chopped onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic and saute until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove vegetables using slotted spoon and set aside.
Increase heat to high. Add beef and pork; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Return vegetables to pot. Add tomatoes, ale, chili powder chilies, cayenne and cumin. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer 2 hours, adding reserved tomato liquid if chili appears dry. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Uncover and simmer until thickened and meat is tender, 2 more hours.
Season chili with hot pepper sauce. Serve with green onions, cheddar cheese, avocado and sour cream.
Makes at least 8 servings.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: This favorite version of ours might very well be “middle-of-the-road” in the debate about what should (or should not) be in a pot of chili. It doesn’t include beans, pleasing many, but it uses tomatoes, upsetting other purists.
We usually make it with beef and pork, and we recently tried a mixture of lamb and pork. We prefer this version, exactly as published 22 years ago (!!!) in Bon Appetit, by far. Some markets sell ground beef for chili, but it’s better to buy a large cut of beef chuck, some pork shoulder and cut them by hand into 3/4 inch cubes. The final texture is well worth the extra work.
Chili is ideal for entertaining, as it gets better when it sits in the fridge for a day. Sometimes we make a full batch, enjoy “chili for two,” and save leftovers in the freezer for an encore another time.
This dish deserves recognition as a “Perfect Saturday Night Dinner” !
ONE YEAR AGO… CINNAMON ROLLS