My basic chili recipe. Meaty and hearty, this easy recipe will soon become a family favorite!
I grew up eating Wendy’s chili. Thick, meaty, and hearty, it was one of my favorites as a kid. Back then, I thought chili was fancy-pants cooking. Then I became a poor grad student and started cooking it at home.
There’s nothing like living on your own with a limited budget to make you look for recipes that are wallet friendly, filling, and tasty at the same time. Chili is one of those foods. 🙂
I love chili so much that it’s now one of those meals that I cook ALL THE TIME.Â I cook it for my family of five. I also cook it and serve it at parties. Chili is easy. Chili is tasty. And with lots of toppings served in bowls, chili can seem like a party.
For a weeknight dinner, I’ll go simple and include 3-4 toppings. But for a party, I bring out ALL the toppings! Variety makes it seem like a party.
Also, don’t forget to add a good carby side. Tortilla chips, Fritos, or homemade cornbread are classics. But brown rice or spiral pasta works well, too!
How to Make Basic Chili:
- Sweat out the vegetables for a long time. Longer than you think. I put the timer on for 15 minutes, keeping an eye on the vegetables so they donâ€™t burn. Also, cook the spices with the vegetables. Don’t add them at the end! It takes time to develop flavor.
- BROWN the meat. DO NOT let the meat â€œsteamâ€ with heat that is too low. Of course, you donâ€™t want it to burn either.
- Simmer on low until the color changes to a deep, rusty red. At the end of the long simmer, you will see pools of fat floating around the surface. Donâ€™t be alarmed! This may take 30 – 45 minutes but it’s the key to making extra-good chili. Just keep checking and stirring.
- Thicken with a slurry of masa flour and water.Â Lots of recipes call for tomato paste but this method gives so much more flavor.Â *Thank you Pioneer Woman for this genius idea!*
- 2 lbs extra-lean ground beef
- 2 large onions small dice
- 2 stalks celery small dice
- 1 large carrot small dice
- 1 bell pepper small dice
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 T. chili powder
- 1 T. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. paprika smoked, if you have it
- 1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder optional
- 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder optional
- 2 chipotle chili peppers, in adobe sauce chopped (optional)
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 19 oz can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 19 oz can pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup Masa Flour
- 1/2 cup water
- Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add 3 T. neutral cooking oil (I used grapeseed oil). Add vegetables and garlic. Sprinkle spices and salt on top of vegetables. Mix around with a wooden spoon, being careful not to let it burn. SautÃ© until soft and slightly brown, about 15 minutes, lowering heat if you need. Add a little more oil if it starts sticking too much to the bottom.
- Raise heat to medium-high. Add ground beef. Break up meat with a wooden spoon until no pink remains, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add crushed and diced tomatoes, chicken stock, kidney beans, and pinto beans. Add the chopped up chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. Mix and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer with lid partly on/off. Stir once in awhile so it doesnâ€™t stick to the bottom of the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes, on low heat, until the color deepens to a darker red.
- Make the Masa flour slurry. Mix the Masa flour and water in a small bowl. Mix well until there are no clumps. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more.
- Taste and adjust seasonings with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro, green onions, etc. I also like to serve tortilla chips, Fritos, or cornbread on the side.