Homemade is Better—Chilli

I have previously stated, “there are a small handful of meals that are always better the next day.  Lasagna is one of them, followed by coleslaw, pulled pork, and pizza”.  I also admitted that this isn’t a list that cannot have edits, and I submit for you such an edit, an addition.  I present to you my chilli recipe.

Before I get into further details, I must add that many people make chilli in many ways and with many different ingredients.  While on a recent vacation, we stopped at a restaurant in Detroit.  The restaurant is known for making Coney Island hot dogs, which, for those who do not know, is a hot dog in a bun covered with chilli.  We in Canada know them as chilli dogs, but they are a particular item in Detroit.

Back to chilli.  We’ve all heard of chilli cook-offs, where the cooks try to make the best or spiciest chilli possible to win.  This recipe is not that!  I hope that those who like chilli will enjoy this mild version.  We like it in our house, which is hopefully obvious because I always test my recipes on my family before I write.  But I’ve found chilli is also better the next day.  It is also an excellent vehicle for leftovers.

I like to mix a few different items into my chilli.  I used ground pork, ground beef, and loose Italian sausage as my meat base.  I added some onion and garlic, a can of whole tomatoes with liquid, added some tomato paste, beef stock, spices, and a can of kidney beans.  Cook it for a couple of hours, and viola, you have chilli.

Full disclosure as well, I have been working on this recipe for a long time, and with every iteration, I add something new or change a portion of an ingredient.  I suggest you make this recipe at least two to three times before you experiment.  It is good to get an idea of the starting point and make this recipe until you are happy with how it tastes, then start adding other ingredients.  You could try smoked paprika, dry mustard powder, trade out the beef and pork for poultry, or make it vegetarian by removing the meat and adding more tomato or beans.  It’s your recipe now; play with the ingredients, but I warn you, start with small portions and build until you’re happy.

I would never add a new ingredient without adding it in smaller amounts; for example, I might add sweet paprika, but I would start with one teaspoon and then build on it as the chilli is cooking.  Perhaps I want the taste to be more present, and the one teaspoon isn’t quite enough; I might add half of a teaspoon next, then another half.  I would add the new ingredient in smaller portions until I was happy with it; it is easier to add more but not as easy to take away.  If you add too much, you’ll have to figure out how much of everything else you need to add to balance it.  If you get overzealous and add a tablespoon of ghost peppers, you’ll have to figure out how much of the other ingredients you need to add so the spice calms down.  Patients are key to experimenting with your recipes.

And now, we make chilli.

Chilli

Ingredients:

1lb ground pork
1lb ground beef
350g Italian sausage without casing
One onion – diced
2 tbsp olive oil
Five cloves of garlic – minced
One can of whole tomatoes
1 13oz can of tomato paste
1.5 cups beef broth
2 tbsp chilli powder
2 tbsp cumin
2-3 bay leaves
One can of kidney beans drained and rinsed
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
  • Get all your ingredients ready.
  • Grab a medium to a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, add the olive oil, then turn your burner to high heat.
  • After two to three minutes, add the meat, but don’t overcrowd the pan.
  • Brown, each meat, add a few pinches of salt to the pork and beef but not the sausages, and then set all the meat aside.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions.
  • Cook the onions until they start turning translucent, then add in the garlic and cook both items for a few minutes to soften them and release their aroma.
  • Turn the burner heat back up to high and add the whole tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and get those brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the meat back in and cook for one to two more minutes.
  • Taste and add one teaspoon of salt and pepper if you think it’s bland.
  • Add the beef brother, chilli powder, cumin, bay leaves and beans.
  • Stir the mixture a few times; once it starts boiling or bubbling, turn the heat to low and cover the pot with its lid.
  • Let it cook for at least one hour; two is also good, but make sure you stir it every ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves and serve it up!
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