I love chili; I truly love it with all my heart. In fact, I harbor a secret fantasy about taking part in a chili cook-off, somewhere in rural Texas. In this fantasy, I have a table set up among the dust and tumbleweeds, and watch in fear as the other contestants concoct their batches of smoky, spicy goodness. They are all well versed in the ways of chili, while I am but a novice. Yet somehow, with my secret chili recipe, I blow the competition away, am awarded a blue ribbon, and crowned Queen of Chilidom.
Okay, so back to reality, my kitchen, where there are no tumbleweeds. I’ve been experimenting with chili since I was about eight years old. I remember my mom would make a large batch on Friday nights, and my brother and I would siphon some off into a smaller pan. It was our, shall we say, experimental pan. We’d basically just add a tone of spices to it, stir it, taste it, and add some more spices. Sometimes it would turn out heavenly, other times…well, let’s just say that my mother was wise not to let us experiment on the entire batch.
In the winter, I make a lot of chili. It’s a great food to cook in a big batch, as it’s better on the second day than the first and by the third day, it’s divine! At this point, I have a tried and true version that I stick pretty closely to. However, the eight year old in me always has to tweak something, just a little, each time, to see if I can continue to make it blue ribbon worthy.
Michelle’s Blue Ribbon Worthy Chili
1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bell peppers chopped (I used red and yellow in this batch)
10 large tomatoes diced OR 2 large (28oz) cans of diced tomatoes
1 dried chipotle chili OR 1 chipotle chili in adobe
1 heaping TBSP ancho chili powder
1 TBSP paprika
6 cups of assorted, cooked beans – I like black, red, kidney and pinto. Use 3-4 cans if you’re not using dried
1 small jar/can of organic tomato paste
2 TBSP dark chocolate. I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips that I had in the fridge.
1 beer – I like Anchor Steam, but have used many different beers with success.
First, saute the onions in an oil of your choice (I used grass fed ghee) until they are translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 or 3 minutes. Then, add the bell pepper and stir in. While this is cooking, grind up the dried chipotle chili using your cuisinart or pestle and mortar. After the bell pepper have cooked (5-7 minutes), stir in the ancho chili powder and paprika. Coat the mixture with these spices, then add the tomatoes and stir everything together. At this point, add the ground chipotle chili pepper. If you’re using the chipotle in adobe sauce, simply chop it and add it at this point.
Now, add the tomato paste. Then, slowly pour in the beer (it will be foamy!) and stir everything together. At this point you may want to add some more liquid, depending on how thick you like your chili to be. Sometimes I will add another cup or two of veggie broth to thin it out. When you get your mixture to a desirable consistency (remember it will cook down), then add the chocolate.
Bring the entire mixture to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for an hour. Taste it, and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Finally, add the beans, stir everything together, and let simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes, stirring often.
Serve with chopped onion, cheese, crackers, roasted garlic, or just as is!
Now that I eat meat, I’m going to experiment with adding grass fed beef or buffalo! I’ll keep you posted!