Brrr! It’s going to get cold this weekend. Time to make some chili!
Chili is one of those dishes that everyone makes, but no one makes the same. Meat, no meat; beans, no beans; pork vs beef; tomatoes, no tomatoes. You name it and someone makes chili with it. I don’t want to get into any range wars over ingredients, because I like chili most any way you can make it.
I used to make chili using the Wick Fowler kits that have the spices in little packets. It made good chili, too, although I always added a bit of sugar to the mix to cut some of the acid from the tomatoes and a little more cayenne pepper to spice it up. Wick Fowler was a Texas newspaperman who created the eponymous grocery store kits and won the Terlingua International Chili Championship in 1970.
But one day, I got a wild hair and decided to measure all those spices to see exactly what was going in my chili. I wrote everything down carefully and then bought all the spices I needed at the grocery store. Turns out, the chili I made myself tasted exactly like what I made with the kits. And because I now knew the spices that went into the chili, I could start tweaking them to suit my whims.
I changed the paprika to smoked paprika and added some smoked chipotle powder. The smokey elements elevated the flavor by a magnitude. The last time I made chili, I used some beef sausage from Wright Longhorn Beef that we didn’t get around to grilling last summer. The sausage was seasoned with a little allspice, which gave the chili a delicious warm-spice flavor.
(If you haven’t eaten Longhorn beef, you should give it a try. It’s leaner than other types of beef, and it has a really deep beefy flavor. You can pick up some Longhorn from Wright Longhorn Beef at the Barton Creek Farmers Market.)
2 lbs. ground meat
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
5 tbsp ground chili
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp smoked chipotle powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional; add more if you like really spicy chili)
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
2 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 can black beans or kidney beans (optional)
Brown meat, onions, and garlic in a little olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low.
Combine all ingredients in a crock-pot and let it cook on low all day. You don’t even have to brown the meat first.