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Frugal Meals: Chili Recipe

I am a huge lover of chili. There’s just something about the meaty spiciness of this dish that makes my mouth water just writing about it. Plus, it is so versatile and frugal. You can eat it by itself or you can add it to hotdogs, french fries, baked potatoes and nachos. You can use beef, chicken, venison or even make it vegetarian. You can also dress it up with a huge array of toppings including my favorites cheddar/jack cheese, sour cream, diced raw onions and diced jalapenos. For even more topping ideas check out this thread at Chowhound.

It may very well be true that there are as many recipes for chili as there are cooks. It certainly does lend itself to interpretation and creativity so it is an easy recipe to tinker with and to make your own. It also lends itself to controversy with a long running debate over beans vs no beans. The no beans variety is often called Texas Red Chili and is my personal favorite. That being said, here is my personal favorite chili recipe (feel free to tinker and make it your own)!

Texas red chili sign

Go Texas Red Chili! Photo by Pasa47

Chili Ingredients:

  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 3 cups diced onions
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3-6 TBS chili powder (I use dried Thai bird chilis for extra kick)
  • 1 1/2 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 TBS dried oregano
  • 3 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 1/2 cup white cornmeal
  • 2 cans kidney or pinto beans drained and rinsed – OPTIONAL (I am a firm believer in the saying “If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans!”)

Directions

  1. In a heavy 4 Qt pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent (8-10 min)
  2. Increase heat to medium high and add the beef and pork. Cook until browned (8-10 minutes)
  3. Add the next 9 ingredients and cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add tomato juice, beef broth and beer and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. If you are using beans add them at this step too. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/3 (90-120 minutes)
  5. Slowly add cornmeal while stirring. The cornmeal is used to thicken the chili so you may need more or less than 1/2 cup. Start by adding a 1/4 cup and then continue to add slowly until chili is thickened to your liking. Cook 2 more minutes and you’re done!

You can serve this chili immediately after it is finished cooking, but for the best flavor I recommend letting it sit overnight. If you plan on doing that simply put it back on the stove the next day to reheat. If you need to thin it a bit you can do so with a small amount of beef broth. Serve in crocks or bowls and top with your favorite topping. If you want, make some cornbread too as it goes great with chili!

Empty chili bowl

All Gone! Photo by bradleygee/

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