I'll say upfront that I've never "gotten" why people eat chili. In fact, if truth be told, I've looked down my nose at this dish, placing it in the category of things people who don't know how to cook make. But DSO loves chili and had been talking about it for weeks, so I decided I would make him a chili that was more than a tossing of meat, tomatoes, and spices in a pot.
After doing a little research, I decided to do a riff on Jamie Deen's recipe. What drew me to it was that it combined ground beef with ground sausage, so we were already on our way to a little deeper flavor. Jamie's recipe, however, called for just 1 pound of meat, which I felt was stingy; I doubled it. It also called for both diced tomatoes and whole plum tomatoes rather than the ubiquitous tomato sauce. I used the petite diced tomatoes and put the whole plums through a food mill, which yielded a good consistency. I liked Jamie's suggestion for using red kidney, pinto, and black beans, but increased the amount to balance the increase in meat. Finally, while Jamie suggested using a packet of chili seasoning, he also called for ground cumin and ground chili powder to taste. I added some garlic as well. What follows is my adaptation of Jamie's recipe.
Serves 8 - 10 generously
1 lb each ground beef and ground sweet sausage
1 onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 cups chopped celery
2 (28 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes
1-2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 (14.5 oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pkg chili seasoning mix
shredded cheddar cheese, crema, guacamole, chopped scallions (optional toppings)
In a large Dutch oven, brown ground beef and sausage, drain, and set aside. In same Dutch oven, add the onion, pepper, and celery and saute 5-8 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes and run the whole tomatoes through a food mill and add to the mix. Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt to taste and cook for an additional 5 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the beans, browned meat, and chili seasoning. Partially cover the pot and let simmer for 4 hours. Serve with your favorite toppings and cornbread or rice.
*If you wish to make this in a slow cooker, after browning meats and veggies, set slow cooker to low heat and cook 6-8 hours.
I served the chili with homemade guacamole, Mexican crema, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. DSO likes his chili served over rice, so that's what he had. I also made a simple corn bread. I actually broke up the corn bread in my chili, giving me the idea to make cornbread croutons next time. Have I been converted to a chili eater? Yes, perhaps once a year. The flavor of this chili was deep and satisfying. The recipe yields at least 8-10 good-sized servings (DSO brought a big batch to work to share with his friends, we gave his mom some, we ate it 2 nights, and there was still a bit left over). If you DO like chili, I exhort you to try this one. DSO pronounced it the best chili he had ever tasted, high praise indeed from a diehard chili man.