Once upon a time, we lived on a military base. There, we had a man-neighbor. He once made my family chili. I asked man-neighbor for the recipe, so he showed me a piece of paper. Listed on it was cans, packets, and jars of stuff mixed into a crock pot.
Are. you. serious.
So being the food snob that I can be, I wanted to duplicate the flavor, but eliminate the processed food items and make it from scratch.
"1 lb ground turkey."
First item of business - change ground turkey to organic, grass fed ground beef. It just makes me happier.
"1 packet McCormick chili powder."I went to the grocery store and looked on the back of one of the packets. Minus the MSG and preservatives, I think I could combine paprika, cayenne, cumin, bay leaves, salt, and pepper all by my big-girl self.
"1 can diced tomatoes."
I have knives and a cutting board for those... What's "a can," like, a cup's-worth?
"1 can of pinto beans" + "1 can refried beans."
So... one's just mashed pinto beans? I got this. I can do beans. Shewt, I'll even throw in some black beans for texture variation.
Okay, I could probably make this, but they sell organic tomato paste at my most favoritest store in the world, so I won't get too picky. I'll give man-neighbor some credit on this one. One day I'll get the guts to make my own tomato paste. Until then, cans it is.
"1 bell pepper."
Can do. I used a sweet red pepper and it was a bigger hit with the family, so either/or, I suppose!
"1/2 onion, diced."
Psht. Why not throw the whole onion in there?
"1/4 C minced garlic."
Since he was a man-neighbor, he used the pre-minced, jarred stuff. I don't. So, 1/8 C (4 Tbsp) fresh minced garlic worked for me.
"1-2 jalapeño peppers."
I could do this. Or, if my jalapeño plant outside was being destroyed by little bunnies and fluffy chickens, I could just add a Tbsp red pepper flakes + some canned green chiles... since my Anaheim plant was also being destroyed by little bunnies and fluffy chickens. (Does it annoy you as much as it annoys me that plain, canned VEGETABLES need to be labeled "gluten free?" Is it a popular assumption that they're swimming in soy sauce or covered in bread crumbs? I guess it will boost sales, but I still say that it's annoying).
"1 C pico de gallo."
If you have tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, salt, garlic and cilantro, why would you add a "cup of pico de gallo? I just upped the original amounts of all the other ingredients of pico de gallo (except for the cilantro). Next problem?
That's a LOT of cilantro. I love cilantro, but in chili, it wasn't doin' it for me. I eliminated the cilantro because the flavor was a little ... "off" (for my taste, anyway).
The finished product was awesome. Rich in flavor, full of vegetables, add some shredded cheddar cheese in the boys' bowls and everyone was happy. I made enough to feed small army, so roughly half of this vat went into the freezer for "I'm too exhausted to cook" days. Here's the end result - I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
2 lbs organic, grass fed beef
2 tbps butter/oil (omit if not using grass-fed)
1 large onion or two small/medium onions, diced
1-2 bell peppers, diced
1-2 jalapeños, diced OR 2 cans green chiles + 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
2.5 C tomatoes, diced
4 C cooked pinto beans
2 C cooked black beans
4-6 C water or bone broth (nomnomnom)
2 6-oz cans of tomato paste
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
2 . 5 tbsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp paprika
3 bay leaves
4 tbsp freshly minced garlic
salt, to taste (start with a tbsp and work your way up from there)
1. Brown the ground beef on a medium-high heat, in a large pot. If you are using conventional ground beef, do not use butter or oil. If you are using grass-fed beef, then melt 2 tbsp oil in the pot prior to browning the meat.
2. While meat is browning, begin chopping the onion(s). Next, do the bell peppers, jalapeños, and tomatoes - in that order.
3. Remove the meat from the pot into a separate container and place to the side. Don't drain all of the oil - you'll need it for the next steps.
4. With the heat now at medium, add the onions and stir frequently.
This is what they should look like when they're done:
5. Place the cooked onions in the container that holds the cooked ground beef.
6. Now, cook the bell and jalapeño (if you are using fresh) peppers. Add the garlic for the last minute or so.
7. Put the onions and ground beef back into the pot. Add the beans, water/broth, green chiles, tomato paste, tomatoes, spices, and bay leaves. Stir well (pay special attention to that tomato paste, make sure to break it up well).
8. Let it simmer for about an hour on low heat, stirring frequently. The ingredients (beans and meat) are "heavy," and tend to stick to the bottom of the pot, so stirring will prevent that from happening.
9. Now while that's simmering, whip up a batch of skillet corn bread... recipe to come!
I like to serve this on rice garnished with some raw white onions, but it is pretty awesome on its own. As mentioned previously, the boys always appreciate a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Husband's favorite method of consumption is of course, on a cheap hotdog in a bun. Some habits never die.