Fall rocks for chefs. Don’t get me wrong, spring and summer are amazing with all its fresh ingredients and clean flavors. But then suddenly fall arrives and the warm, one-pot dishes come back into your life and you remember how fun it is to simmer a dish for hours, filling your kitchen with amazing smells. I love having to start dinner when it’s really only time for breakfast or lunch, then working the rest of the day on other things, all the while knowing that dinner is essentially done. It’s the little things!
Enter chili. It’s one of the first recipes I make when the cooler weather arrives. It’s easy, hearty and can be spicy if you like (and I like), plus it’s pretty good for you as long as you don’t load it up with too much cheese and sour cream (which I also like). It’s a great recipe for new cooks to try yet it something that even seasoned chefs strive to perfect. I just like to make it because it’s delish!
Here are a couple of things I make sure to do when making chili:
- Don’t buy pre-ground beef. UGH. So many fillers and other nasties that you just don’t know what’s in it! Okay, I buy it on occasion when it’s on sale and crazy cheap, but I almost always buy a chuck roast and ask my butcher to grind it up for me (butcher = guy behind the meat counter, I’m not the Barefoot Contessa, people!). They’re always happy to do it and it only takes them a minute. I still watch those sales though, and sometimes I’ll buy extra, have it ground and toss it in my freezer.
- Use beer. And not just any ol’ beer, but buy a bottle of the better stuff. Preferably dark, unless you’re making a chicken chili, in which case a good ale is nice. You won’t taste the beer flavor but it will make the flavor of the chili pretty amazing.
- Use fresh ingredients! Let me say that again: USE FRESH INGREDIENTS. At least as often as you can. Fresh corn is soo much better than canned or frozen and it keeps a crisp texture. But go ahead and use the canned beans if you like; they’re just as good in chili as dried.
- Let it simmer. You don’t need to cook it all day, but a couple of hours is nice to make sure the flavors really come together.
More great soup recipes:
- Lobster Bisque with Old Bay Oyster Crackers
- Lentil Soup Recipe with Parmesan and Smoked Sausage
- Chicken Tortilla Soup with Hatch Chiles
- Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- Avgolemono Soup (Chicken Soup with Egg and Lemon)
Kristy’s Killer Chili
- 4 lbs chuck roast, ground at home or by the butcher
- 2 onions, chopped
- fresh corn from 4 ears of corn (or a couple of cups of frozen or canned if fresh isn’t available)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 large poblano pepper, diced
- 1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
- 6 T chili powder
- 1 T ancho chile powder
- 1 1/2 T ground cumin
- 1 T ground coriander
- 1 chipotle chile (from a can with adobo sauce), chopped very fine
- 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 15 oz cans black beans
- 1 bottle dark beer (stout works well)
Preheat a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown ground chuck until it’s no longer pink. Remove beef and set aside. Discard all but 1 T fat from pan.
Add onions, corn and all the peppers to pan. Saute over medium-high heat until almost soft (about 10 minutes). Add spices and cook for 2 more minutes. Return meat to pan, then add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer (a simmer is when bubbles barely break the surface) for a couple of hours, depending on how much time you have*. Taste and add some adobo sauce from the can of chipotles if you like a bit more smokiness and spice. This is also where you season it! ADD SALT, and DON’T SKIMP. Add a teaspoon, taste, and add another if needed. And another! I probably would set a tablespoon as my limit but don’t be afraid to add until it tastes perfect!
*In a pinch, just give it twenty minutes and serve. It will always taste better the next day!