Sunday, January 9, 2011


When it comes to traditional tomato-based chili, for me there is no other than this recipe, the one I grew up with, that my dad made almost once a week during the colder months for as long as I can remember (it is among maybe three dishes he knows how to cook), and that my mom made too (except she preferred hers a little less spicy and a little more soupy).

We ate it with saltine crackers.  It needed no other garnish.

It's one of very few recipes I can't imagine messing with or improving upon (except for of course I used a ground meat substitute, and it made no difference to me - the meat part is about texture and the substitute worked fine).

I don't claim that our family chili is the best according to all tastes, and it definitely is not the fanciest, but it just IS chili for me, and nothing else tastes right.

olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, diced
glug red wine (optional)
1 lb ground meat (I use a vegan substitute... tastes about the same)
2 cans Bush's chili beans and their juices (it has to be Bush's... or a quality brand)
1 can Bush's kidney beans, rinsed
1 large can whole tomatoes (break tomatoes apart with your spoon in the pot)
1 cup or so water (use your judgement)
1 pack McCormick chili seasoning mix
Cayenne pepper (to your liking)
Extra chili powder (to your liking)
3 Tbsp tomato paste

Heat the oil in a big heavy pot.  Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook about a minute.  Deglaze with the wine. Pour in everything else.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least two hours.  Serve with lots of saltine crackers.

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