Chili is one of those dishes that everyone loves – but everyone has their own (definite) view of what it should be like.
You can get into a half-hour heated discussion about chili variations here in Texas. Beans or no beans? To some folks, them’s fighting’ words!
There are so many versions of chili. Do you prefer long-simmered hunks of beef that melt in your mouth or ground beef? Should it be a chunky, meaty concoction, or have a juicy, dark-red stew-like consistency? Is beef even the right meat? Some folks here make chili with venison, or add pork sausage to their beef chili. Chili powder or your own spice mix? Jalapeños and other chilis, or just bell pepper plus spices for the heat? Serve it with crackers or tortillas? Top with cheese or not?
So many variations, so little time…
I grew up with my Dad’s wonderful chili – it has no beans, uses chili powder and is thickened with masa. It’s really good and perhaps he’ll let me publish his recipe here in the blog sometime. But as a grownup I have almost always had a garden that is over-flowing with different chili peppers just begging to be used, and have evolved my own chili recipe which puts these peppers front and center in the taste profile. Even in late October/early November, I’m still harvesting peppers. And I really like chili with beans. So – it’s Glover Gardens Chili time.
This chili is simple, healthy, quick and versatile. The heat comes from fresh chiles, which, along with the cilantro added at the end of the cooking time, give it a garden-fresh taste. And because we really like beans, Glover Gardens chili uses three different kinds: kidney (dark red), black and pinto. Be sure to use beans that haven’t had additional spices added so that you can control the flavor of your chili. I like Bush’s Beans the best, and they are widely available. Click here to view their variety beans products that don’t have added flavorings.
The leftovers (if there are any) make terrific nachos and can also be used on hot dogs, in stuffed baked potatoes or as a quesadilla filling.
Ingredients (serves 8-10)
- 2 lbs. very lean ground beef (or 1 lb. of ground beef and 1 lb. of ground turkey)
- 1 large red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 large bell peppers, any color, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 1/2 – 1 cup assorted chiles, finely chopped (I use a mixture of serranos, jalapeños and any other chiles I have on hand – increase or decrease to reach your desired heat level)
- 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped; click here for instructions, or you can substitute a can of diced green chilis if you don’t have poblanos or have time to roast them (hot or mild depending on your preference)
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in sauce
- 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained
- 1 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained
- 1 14 oz. can red kidney beans, drained
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 – 3 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Optional: up to 1 tsp. cayenne or ground ancho chili (if the peppers don’t achieve the heat you seek)
- 1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro, chopped (plus additional cilantro for garnish, if desired)
- Optional garnishes: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated cheddar or jack cheese, cilantro, Pico de gallo (click for my recipe) or sliced fresh jalapeños, diced red onion
Chop all vegetables (I chop the larger vegetables by hand for a medium/large dice, and use a mini-processor for the garlic, hot chilis and roasted poblanos to get them finely chopped). Sauté ground beef in a large pot until only slightly pink and drain. Return to the pan and add the chopped onions, peppers, chiles, poblano peppers or canned green chilis and garlic and sauté until vegetables are wilted.
Stir in both cans of tomatoes, then add the beans and stir again. Add cumin, pepper and 2 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer at medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and cover and cook for a half hour or until you are ready to serve, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more salt, if necessary, along with any extra spice as indicated above to get the heat level you desire. Stir in cilantro, then serve with your choice of garnishes.
I love the process of making chili – the chopping, the smell of the fresh garden vegetables, the virtuous feeling when adding all the beans, the bright vibrant colors…it’s all good.
Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook