Papa’s basic Chili that won’t kill little kids nor permanently alienate the neighbor’s wife.
I suggest reading the whole thing carefully first before you get started.
1 6-Pack of cheap near ice cold beer (I like MGD for this purpose)
2 thick tri-tip steaks to hand grind or 2 lbs coarse ground chili meat
1 bag of Carol Shelby’s (Original Texas Brand Chili kit)
2 med. or 1 large white onion
1 bell pepper
2 7oz cans of diced chilies (I like La Victoria)
1 small 4oz can of diced jalapeño peppers (again, I like La Victoria)
2 8oz cans tomato sauce (I like Hunts)
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes (I like S&W)
1 15oz can of pinto beans (I like Ranch Style with jalapeños)
1 15oz can of kidney beans (no personal preference)
2 Tbsp cooking oil
Condiments to have on hand – Cayenne (red) pepper – Chili powder – Cumin powder – Garlic powder
1 large pot (I use an 8 quart pot but 6 will get ‘er done) with lid
1 large frying pan
1 large metal spoon to stir with
1 water glass
2 forks to cook/mix with
1 pair of kitchen scissors
Drink a can of beer while you check to make sure you still have everything on hand – out and handy. Take time to read the package on the Carroll Shelby’s bag for a good chuckle. This is a very good time to open all of the canned goods and set them near the cooking stove. Open the Carroll Shelby’s mix bag and lay out the individual packets.
Pour one can of beer in the large pot and set it on medium heat, (and since the stove is now on, open another one for yourself). Pour in the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and the can of pinto beans. Drain the kidney beans in the sink, rinse with cold water and drain again, then add them to the pot. Pour in both cans of diced chilies and HALF the diced Jalapeños along with half of the juice from the can. Stir well and move on to the meat.
Put about 2 tbl spoons of cooking oil in the frying pan, put it on medium/high heat and add the (previously thawed) chili meat. I like to use a cooking fork to keep it broken up during this stage – but don’t get carried away here and turn it into taco meat – you are cooking CHILI and it should have some chewy consistency to it. By the same token, you don’t want mouth sized “chunks” of meat either. Its up to you if you want to drain off some of the fat after initial cooking – I don’t and am still alive but I am now taking blood pressure meds too. Your choice.
Rinse, cut, clean the bell pepper then slice and dice it (I like to get it down to about 1/2 inch chunks to promote cooking). While you are at this, you can occasionally stir the meat around to promote even cooking. Don’t get in a hurry, have some beer. When the meat looks about 3/4ths of the way done, toss the bell pepper in with the meat and stir/toss with the large spoon.
Repeat with the onion. You don’t have to worry about dicing onion quite as fine and don’t be in a hurry here – the meat and bell pepper take longer to cook/saute than the onions will. The onion will only take a short time to turn semi translucent so kind of keep an eye on it at this point, stirring frequently.
Open the package of chili seasoning from the “kit” with scissors and “dust” a layer onto the mix in the big pot *and* lightly dust the meat in the frying pan too. Stir both well. Repeat dusting/stirring in the big pot until you have folded in all of the mix. (Don’t just “dump” it in – you don’t want balls of spice in your chili!) Also add the little packets of salt and cayenne from the “kit”.
At this point I like to dust a thin layer of cayenne pepper a very thin layer of cumin powder and an equally thin layer of garlic powder over the meat – then stir well in the frying pan. Open yourself another beer and enjoy the smell of the meat cooking. The meat should be very near “done” and here is where you make an important judgment call. Be SURE the meat is done, you are making chili here – not some kind of rare steak. I can guarantee the chili won’t taste right if you don’t get the meat completely done.
Using your large spoon, transfer the contents of the frying pan into your large cooking pan. Be careful. If you do it without spilling anything, open a can of beer to celebrate. Stir everything well – if the mix looks “dry” pour half of your beer in the pot and drink the other half yourself. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.
Open the little packet of Masa flour and dump it into the water glass – pour the glass about 1/3rd full of beer (careful, it might foam temporarily) then stir very, very well with a fork. (Don’t want lumps that will turn into dumplings). This thin Masa flour mix is your “thickening” agent and also adds a certain consistency I enjoy to the chili. You don’t HAVE to use it but I always do. Remove the lid and introduce the flour into the pot while stirring – keep stirring for about a minute (remember no dumplings).
Replace the lid and if there is any left – have a beer. The chili is already ready to serve, but I like to let it simmer a spell, stirring occasionally, while I find another six-pack. (If you didn’t read the whole thing first and ran out of beer at this point – don’t blame me!) Turn it off and let it set a spell. Let all those spices kind of “gel”. Don’t get in a hurry to eat it – reminding yourself that 2nd day chili is always hotter and better tasting – if you can keep some back from the ravenous hoards. Besides, you’ve got some beer there to keep you company right?
Every now and then I will stub my toe while adding the additional Chili and Cumin powder – or slip and add the whole can of jalapeños, thereby threatening the taste buds of the little ones. When that happens, I will cook off a pot of some kind of pasta, (small elbow macaroni or bow-tie pasta work well) and simply ladle out some chili over the pasta for the kids.
For me – I just like saltine crackers and plenty of beer with my chili – but that is for personal taste. Occasionally I will garnish my bowl with shredded cheese and finely diced raw onion but that is about it. I put out a bowl of shredded cheese and finely diced onion and let the rest of the family/friends pick their own poison.
If its just me and the menfolks, I may eliminate the beans, dump in the whole can of jalapeños and get carried away with the additional Chili power and Cumin. My Grandpa always said “the redder the better” and I fear he ruined me for life.
So let it be written, so let it be done!
Afterthought: Cooking in general is much more of an “art” than a “science” – you should play with it – have fun – try different ingredients and proportions until you find out what makes YOU happy. The above makes me REAL happy, but to this very day I can’t seem to resist “playing with it” just a little. One of the first ingredients that comes to mind is some good ground sausage. 😉