Saturday, October 17, 2009


Nothing makes me happier on a cool, fall day than a big pot of chili. I just threw a pot together to let it simmer for a while and figured we could talk chili for a bit.

As the International Chili Society says "Never has there been anything mild about chili." I think that about sums it up. Chili is one of those foods that everyone seems to love, and everyone seems to have a different way of making theirs. There's your traditional chili (usually beef with red kidney beans), chili verde (usually pork with jalapenos and tomatillos in the sauce), white chili (usually turkey or chicken with white kidney beans), and who knows how many other kinds of chili. Today we're just gonna talk good ole traditional chili. :)

The funny thing about chili, is that it never seems to come out tasting the same way twice. At least not the way I make it. You see, I don't really measure any spices when I put them's more about looking and smelling and tasting...and letting it simmer! I think that's one of the hardest things to do with a pot of chili. Once I get everything in the pot, especially on a week night, I have a hard time keeping myself from diving right in. But it's my belief that the chili isn't truly ready unless it has had at least an hour to simmer. And the longer you can stand to let it simmer, the better it will taste. Everything you put in needs time to blend together so you don't ever taste specific flavors in your chili, but rather have one uniform, delicious pot.

*hold please...I need to stir mine*

Ok, where was I...ah yes. Many people comment that their chili is better the next day. I have two theories for this.

1. You didn't let it simmer long enough on the first day. You probably still had a good pot of chili, but once it had a chance to sit in the fridge overnight, the flavors really got to "harmonize" if you will, and your chili will be even better than before.
2. You didn't have to cook it this time. :) I think that's one of the biggest reasons I love leftovers of any kind: I didn't have to cook that day but I still got to have a delicious dinner. Kind of makes me appreciate the work I did the day before even more.

So what's my secret to a great pot of chili? Experimenting. I put different things in my chili every time and I have yet to end up with a bad pot. Look at your spice rack, what's there? Anything sound like it might go great in a pot of chili? Give it a try!

Here's what's simmering in my pot tonight...

Lauren's Easy Fall Chili

1.25 lbs. ground turkey (you can substitute beef if you'd like)
3-4 Tbls. chili powder (remember I don't measure so this is estimated)
2 tsp. California style onion powder (estimated)
1/2 Tbls. red pepper flakes (estimated)
1 tsp. cumin (estimated)
1 tsp. oregano (estimated)
1 tsp. basil (estimated)
1-10 oz. can mild rotel, undrained and 1-10 oz. can original rotel, undrained (why one of each? well, that's what I had in the pantry!)
1-40 oz. can Brooks chili mild beans
2-10.75 oz. cans tomato soup
1 bay leaf

Cook turkey over medium high heat until is it crumbled and cooked through, drain, add seasonings and cook for 1 minute while stirring to blend. Add remaining ingredients (don't forget the bay leaf), bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for at least 1 hour. Remove bay leaf before serving. Enjoy with any (or all) of the following...macaroni pasta, oyster crackers, crusty bread, cheddar cheese, mexi cheese, onions, or anything else you might like!

This simple chili recipe has LOTS of flavor thanks to all the seasonings but is super simple since it uses so many canned ingredients instead of using fresh peppers and having to do lots of chopping. If you're up for a slightly more complicated recipe, break out the food processor and the cutting board and try this one my mom found a few years ago that is absolutely amazing...

Whiteface Mountain Chili

2 Tbls. veg. oil
2.5 lbs. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large Spanish onion, quartered
4 medium stalks celery
2 medium carrots
2 green bell peppers, seeded and quartered
1 -28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup medium salsa
1-15 oz. can tomato puree
1-10 oz. can chili sauce
1 Tbls. chili powder, more or less to taste
1/2 Tbls. cumin
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 Tbls. chopped jalapeno peppers
2-15 oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat until nearly smoking. dd sausage and saute until it resembles a coarse crumble, about 10 mintues. Meanwhile, place the onions, celery, carrots, and green peppers in a food processor and pulse until very finely diced. Add veggies to sausage and saute another 6-8 minutes, or until soft. Add diced tomatoes, salsa, tomato puree, and chili sauce. Stir and bring to a simmer, then cook 10 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, white pepper, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, garlic, bay leaf, and jalapenos. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 25 minutes. Add the beans and simmer another 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving. Serves 8-10.

Well, my pot of chili is just about ready so I'll have to share more delicious recipes with you another day. Until then you can check out this website for more award winning chili recipes!

Famous Chili Recipes

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