National Chili Day is this Thursday and this got us thinking about all the merits of making a big ole batch of homemade Chili. Think of making homemade chili as a gift that you give both your current and future self. The act can be as drawn out as one desires (with freshly soaked beans and homemade chili pastes, toasted and freshly ground spices, & then slow cooked for hours) filling your home with fragrant, warming aromas wafting from the kitchen. Or, preparation can be quick and easy with canned beans, canned tomatoes, frozen veggies and an hour or so on the stove. Whichever way you choose, one thing is certain. After enjoying your chili for a few days, (the flavors get better as it sits!) stashing a few pints of chili in the freezer is a gift. With this secret weapon at the ready, nachos come together in a snap, and when a comfort food craving really hits, you have the fixings to Chili-Mac (yes, that’s chili mixed into macaroni and cheese, a personal favorite). Homemade chili just makes people smile. Do yourself a solid and stash some for when a get well gift is in order, or when unexpected guests come to town. Your future self will surely be thankful that you did!
olive oil or butter
2 large yellow or sweet onions, diced
5 cloves minced garlic
2 large carrots, small diced
2 cups Rancho Gordo Vaquero or Domingo Rojo Beans, soaked, cooked and drained.
3 lbs of the best quality ground beef, venison, turkey, chicken, or pork you can afford (or if making vegetarian, substitute the meat for 6 cups mixed veggies like chopped cauliflower, zucchini, cooked sweet potatoes, frozen corn or any favorite vegetables
1 red bell pepper, diced
Fresh chiles, if using
4 T chile powder
2 T cumin (ground)
2 T smoked paprika
1 T dry oregano or marjoram
1 T chili flakes
1 T ground anise or fennel
16 oz can of tomatoes chopped or stewed/pureed
2 C beef, chicken or veggie stock
1/4 C cider vinegar
brown sugar, to taste
1 T Baking soda
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
Cheddar cheese, grated
white onion, diced, chopped fresh cilantro or scallions
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil or butter. When hot, Add meat (if using) and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon baking soda on the meat (this will help keep the meat moist), let the meat brown until cooked through. Remove from the pot leaving behind the cooking fat. Then add diced onions. Cook until almost translucent, at medium heat (add a tiny bit of water, wine or beer if the bottom of the pot is getting too dark and the onions scorching). Add the garlic, carrots and red pepper, cooking another 1-2 minutes. Add all of the spices and cook another minute until the spices are fragrant. Add 1 cup lager, ale or unoaked red or white wine and reduce by half, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the meat back to the pot and add the tomatoes and stock. Let this cook until the mixture comes together. Add the drained, cooked beans to the chili. If you’re making vegetarian chili, it’s at this point you can add the tender vegetables and cook until al dente or fully softened. Adjust sweetness and tang with vinegar and brown sugar (trust). Prepare your garnishes, and serve. The longer it sits, the better.
Serve with cheddar, sour cream, onion, scallions and fresh cilantro on top!
To freeze: pack completely cooled chili into containers, leaving room for expansion by the lid. Pack in different sizes so you can defrost a smaller amount for quick nachos or medium sized for mixing into a pot of mac and cheese, yum!
-recipe by Leah Mojer, M & P, Bartlett’s Farm