How many of us were making chili last weekend to celebrate the changing weather and the start of football season? There is something so natural about making a big pot of soup or chili as the weather begins to turn and we need something to warm us from the inside. I have mentioned that soup is one of my favorite things to make and I think I will make an effort this season to post more soup recipes, because even if they are not terribly gourmet, they make for great weeknight meals in winter. They are easy to freeze or make ahead and I find them to be nicely soul satisfying.
Over the years we have tried many different types of chili recipes. Chili is the kind of food where people have very strong opinions about what makes chili, chili - high heat, no heat, with beans, no beans, etc… This is a good time to mention that I was a vegetarian for about 20 years, so the idea that I am making chili con carne at all is something that my younger self might have scoffed at. But, now that I do eat meat, my husband loves to kid me about being a “recovering vegetarian”. So even when we make meat dishes, whatever we make is usually loaded with vegetables too. This is relevant because as we start talking about chili, you will see that I am in the camp that believes in incorporating lots of beans, tomatoes and vegetables to round out this hearty dish. But do what pleases you.
The chili we love most comes from epicurious.com. We have been making this recipe for a couple of years now and it is always gobbled up. The original recipe is called Chili Con Carne with Chili Cheddar Shortcakes and is from Gourmet magazine. What I like about this version is that it is very classic and a nice base for whatever you like to add. You make the whole recipe in one pot, which certainly cuts down on clean up. The cider vinegar adds a nice tang, that you wouldn’t know you want, but you do. The carrots mellow things out. I also recommend using a lean or extra lean type of ground beef since you don’t drain the meat in this recipe, but rather just add to the vegetables that are already cooking. Lastly, the thing I love most about chili, in general, is all the interesting toppings one can add! We usually make up a batch of cornbread and then add chopped onion, avocado, grated cheese, sour cream and hot sauce (of course)! I made a double batch of the below this Sunday and we had plenty left over to freeze.
Chili Con Carne
serves 6 generously
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 4 carrots, sliced thin
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, ground coarse in batches in a food processor or by the butcher
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon crumbled dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes (to taste)
- two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
- 2 cups beef broth
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 19-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped