It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s chilly and windy outside, and I’ve got some fireworks. I figure, what better to make for dinner than something that’ll put some fireworks in my mouth: chili. I know that chili-making is revered by many as an artform, a day-long struggle with spices and beans and meat in quest of perfection. Now, I respect that, but I rarely have the time to simmer an entire day away. Today, for example, I had to work and then had the pleasure of heading out to a New Year’s Eve party for the night. My chili is ready in less than 45 minutes, it’s got lots of flavor, and the heat is adjustable. Now that sounds awesome. I also like to use extra lean ground beef, about 10% fat. This keeps the fat content down, prevents having to drain the beef, and crumbles up beautifully.
Served as is, this chili is warm and mouth-tingling. But, it’s not so spicy that eating it isn’t compulsory. I love chili, because it’s so similar to another of my favorite foods: curry. Like curry, you can change the meats, the garnishes, the spices, the veggies and change the dish entirely. For this chili, there are lots of easy variations that allow you to make it often and vary it slightly each time. Stir in a pound of pasta and cover each bowl with a cheddar and pepper jack blend: chili mac. Switch up the meat and make it with ground chicken or turkey. Or, use different garnishes: salsa, raw onions, green onions, pickled jalapenos, cheeses, cilantro, lime wedges. You can make a huge pot of this, put all the garnishes you come up with on a table and have a chili buffet. Me? I mowed down two bowls.
Chili Con Carne
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 lbs lean ground beef
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 T grill seasoning
- 1 T Worcestershire sauce
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 T dark chili powder
- 1 1/2 T cumin
- 1 tsp pimentón (smoked paprika)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 C beef stock
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
- a pinch of sugar
- 1 15 oz can light red kidney beans
Heat a oil in a large pot over high heat. Add beef and reduce heat to medium high. Season beef with salt, pepper, and grill seasoning, then add Worcestershire sauce. When meat is browned and crumbled, add the onions, peppers, garlic, and spices. Cook together for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and scrape up the pan drippings. Reduce for 2-3 minutes then stir in tomatoes and beans. Add the sugar and let everything simmer for at least 10 minutes. Taste, and adjust the seasonings.
Serve with corn chips or saltines. Garnish with any of the following: shredded cheddar or jack cheese, sliced pickled jalapeños, chopped green or yellow onion, sour cream, cilantro, lime slices, or salsa.