I never thought I was a chili fan. All those beans? Yuck. No thanks.
But then I actually had chili.
It was Thanksgiving Day. I was with a boyfriend of mine—a southern boyfriend. We were at his mother’s house in Nashville. Apparently, Southern Thanksgiving is early in the day (as in, lunch), and the alcohol begins flowing at 9 am. And there were also guests coming for dinner. Not Thanksgiving—dinner, after Thanksgiving. They were friends of my boyfriend’s and his sister. (Both of them lived in other states, so when they came home, reunion time.)
So what did his mom do?
She made chili. And it was good.
(His mom was something of a miracle-worker in the kitchen. And this boyfriend made the best scrambled eggs, ever.)
Her chili had no beans, just ground beef, and it was delicious.
This is not her chili recipe. Well, it might be, I dunno. But I’m using the one from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Like boyfriend’s mom’s, it has no beans (they’re optional), it’s just simple browned meet and spicy goodness. You can add a can of pinto or kidney beans toward the end, if you want. Or a jalapeno, seeded and diced. Or a can of Rotel (which is what I did). Or all of it, in addition to the basic goodness.
So if you’ve got a lot of hungry people to feed after the Thanksgiving Feast, try this.
Simple, Perfect Chili
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 lbs. ground beef
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. masa (corn flour, found in the Mexican section of the supermarket. Sold like regular flour in a big bag.)
See above—1 can pinto or kidney beans, one seeded and diced jalapeno, 1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilies)
Shredded cheddar cheese
1) Measure the spices and place ground beef in a large pot (like a Dutch oven—you need a lid). Add the garlic.
2) Brown the beef and drain off excess fat.
3) Pour in tomato sauce, spices, and salt. Stir together well.
4) Reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add in 1/4 c. of water at a time as needed.
5) After an hour, place the masa in a small bowl. Add 1/2 c. water and stir together with a fork.
6) Dump the masa mixture into the chili.
7) Stir together well. Taste, adjusting seasonings. Add more masa paste and/or water to get chili to your preferred consistency. Add the beans, jalapenos and tomatoes if desired. Simmer for 10 minutes.
8) Serve with shredded cheese, chopped onion and fritos.
To Freeze The Chili: Allow it to cool completely, then place it in 1 cup portions in freezer bags. Flatten the bags for easy storage in the freezer.