Isn't there a chili season? You know, when the days are shorter, the air is cooler, and football season has returned! Don't you begin to crave that nice warm bowl in your hand with all the delicious toppings of your choice?
Chili is one of those recipes that you can easily alter to your liking. There's white bean chili, turkey chili, bean-less chili, vegetarian chili, and good old traditional chili. I have tried a variety, and enjoyed them from BBQ flavored to hot and spicy.
When I make it for my family, I usually make traditional chili with medium heat and I have to make sure the tomatoes are not to chunky (because of one particularly picky teenager). I don't use canned tomatoes, but you certainly can. I store tomatoes from my garden in various ways. If I don't have time to do anything to the tomatoes I flash freeze them whole in my deep freeze and then put them into gallon sized freezer bag. When I have more time I even juice them and can tomato juice, which is excellent for thinning out a thick chili.
With chili in mind, when I harvest other vegetables like onions, I chop them in the food processor and freeze them in individual serving sizes. For example, my recipe calls for 1 medium onion, so I put an amount equal to a medium-sized onion in a small freezer bag. This way when I make chili I can just grab a baggie out of the freezer. It can thaw as I put together the other ingredients, and you can add it to the chili even if it's still a little frozen - it won't hurt anything. As a matter of fact it's a time-saver and you don't have to cry while making your chili!
I think next year when I prep my onions I will add a few jalapenos to the mix then I won't have to chop anything hot/spicy! Also, while we are on the subject of freezing things, you can make a double batch of chili and freeze half for another day (like I do with mashed potatoes - no one likes peeling potatoes, so save yourself some work on an evening when you need to make a quick meal).
1 lb. ground beef or venison
2 cans kidney beans w/liquid
1 can black beans w/liquid
4 medium tomatoes
2 jalapenos, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbs. dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 shakes hot sauce
Brown meat seasoned with garlic salt. In a large pot, add beans and meat cooking over medium heat. Chop tomatoes* or puree in food processor, add to pot, stir. Chop or mince jalapeno and onion, add, stir. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well. Lower heat and stir occasionally to avoid sticking. Cook for 30 minutes or until beans are softened.
*If using frozen tomatoes, run them under luke-warm water to remove the skin. It will slide right off.
Chili is one of those dishes that the longer you cook it the better it tastes as the flavors meld. This is why a lot of people prefer chili the second day.
As I mentioned earlier, chili can easily be changed up to your individual taste. The important components to the recipe are the spices. You can have one type of bean or more. You can have less beans, or eliminate the meat and add more tomato. You can also change the type of meat; beef, venison, turkey. My husband likes more heat, but he just adds it to his bowl.
Some great additions to chili are cornbread or biscuits for a side, or there are a number of yummy add-ins. Some of our favorites are shredded cheese, crackers, sour cream, and jalapeno sliced into rings.
Tell me how you like your chili. What do you add or change? I'd love to hear.