Recipe: Homestyle Chili

27 Aug

Even though it’s still summer, at this time of year I start looking forward to the great things about fall: cozy sweaters, falling leaves and hearty meals bubbling in a cast iron pot. And when you’ve got 2 pounds of ground beef hanging around in the freezer looking to be used, it’s hard not to think of chili.

Growing up, my parents had dueling chili recipes. Both had their merits but I think I have to give the upper hand to dad (sorry mom!) This one differs a bit from dad’s in that it’s missing a can of tinned sliced mushrooms (Mr. Bacon is not a fan) but it’s very similar. Enjoy it by itself or even better, on top of a hot dog. MMM.

Homestyle Chili

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 cans red kidney beans
1 medium onion, diced finely
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 heaping tablespoons chili powder
2 heaping tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
salt, pepper & sugar to taste
1 bay leaf
olive or vegetable oil

Get yourself a big heavy bottomed pot (like this cast iron one). On medium high heat, soften the onion and bell pepper with a couple of tablespoons of oil and some salt and pepper. The salt helps the water cook out of the vegetables. When the onions are almost translucent, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two until it gets fragrant.

Add the ground beef and cook it until it’s brown. You might want to drain some of the oil off at this point, but if you use lean beef it may not be necessary.

Throw in the spices, stir and cook for another minute or two to release the flavours. Then add the tomatoes, paste, and beans and stir being careful not to break up the beans too much. Throw in the bay leaf.

Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for at least an hour but two or slightly more is preferable. Most of the way through, give it a taste and adjust the seasoning, including adding a tablespoon of sugar or so to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Alternatively, you can brown everything in a frying pan and add the rest into a slow cooker to bubble away on low for about 8 hours.

Top with some sour cream or shredded cheese (or both) and a side of crusty bread or toast.

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