Monday, February 25, 2013

John's Chili

When Fall football weekends come around, followed by about 4 months of winter here in Iowa, not much is better for eating than really good chili. I've gone through 3 chili phases in my life...

Chili Phase 1- My first try at chili. When I was in college, I lived off-campus my senior year with 2 roommates. We had to cook meals. I decided I wanted to make a really good batch of chili. I found a "5-Alarm chili" kit at the grocery store. It was just a bag of all the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and stuff. Just add beans, hamburger, and tomato sauce. It was great, and got terrific reviews from all who ate it. And I usually made it spiced really hot.
Chili Phase 2- My first year out of college and in the working world. A co-worker brought a crock of chili to a potluck at work, and I fell in love with it. Diced tomatoes, onion, chopped jalapenos, ground beef, garlic, and chili beans in chili sauce. Simmer all day. I would make a crockpot full and eat only that all weekend. This was my chili of choice for 27 years. It even won "Best Chili" at a contest I entered.

Chili- The final phase- About a year ago, I found a recipe for Wendy's Chili. I've always LOVED Wendy's chili, so I had to give it a try. And it was pretty close. I have found the chili for my future! I love a chili that has a real chili-flavored gravy, and this is it. I usually make a pot of this chili on a Friday so Jo and I will eat it for dinner Friday night. Then there are enough leftovers for me to have chili 4 or 5 times over the next week, and another 4 or 5 times container for the freezer for the future. And now, I've even managed to healthy it up a bit!


First up is to brown the meat. I used to use a pretty lean (93%) ground beef, but since beef is so high priced right now, I picked up ground turkey that was on sale for $1.25 a pound! And with all the spices in the chili, you can't tell that it's not beef.

Into the pot it goes to brown. The turkey is healthier AND cheaper. Win-win! As it's browning, I assemble the rest of the ingredients.

For a full crock or pot, I use:
 2 pounds of meat
 28-oz can of tomato sauce
 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
 2 cans (15-oz) Kidney beans (liquid included)
 2 cans (15-oz) Pinto beans (liquid included)
 1 can (4-oz) diced chiles
 1/2 onion, chopped
4 Tablespoons chili powder (I use Tones Mild chili powder)
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons salt
2 cups water

As the meat finishes browning, it's time to open up some cans. I love my new can opener that doesn't leave a sharp edge!

Look at that! I can touch the top of the just-opened can and NOT get cut!

I can still remember when I had that OLD can opener...bad injury...all the way down to the 2nd knuckle. ;)

Kidding, of course. Fortunately, I still have all my digits! 
OK, let's put this thing together!
When the meat is done browning, drain any fat (with the turkey, there isn't much). Then we add the ingredients. Tomato sauce...


Beans (with liquid)...

Green chiles and chopped onion...

And all the spices...

Now, add 2 cups of water...

I made meat loaf a few nights ago and had leftovers for lunch the next day. Tired of meat loaf now, but still have a piece left. Since I probably won't eat it and don't want to waste it, let's crumble it up and add it to the chili!

Stir it all up, bring it to a boil, and turn down to simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 3 hours, stirring about once an hour.

Now, it's time for Chili!!!! Dig in!

I like my chili with some chopped up raw onion mixed in. Jo prefers hers with some cheese, Fritos, and a dollop of sour cream.

I never get tired of chili! And it's really a pretty healthy meal. And with this recipe, I think it'll be a LONG time before I move on to a different phase of chili.