INGREDIENTS (TYL = To Your Liking, experiment with these ingredients and spices!)
Extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp
Tomato sauce, low sodium (28 oz. can)
Tomato Paste (TYL – used for thickening)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Jalapeño pepper(s) (TYL – for spiciness)
1 tomato, chopped
Garlic, minced (TYL – I use 1 or 2 cloves)
1 lb ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey) – optional
Beans, 1 can drained (white, red, or dark red kidney beans OR, if you’re feeling particularly saucy, use 1 can of Hot Chili Beans including the liquid in the can – choose your own adventure!)
Bonus! Try a little tequila or vodka. I mean, why not, right?
SEASONINGS – all TYL
Fresh cracked black pepper
Ground cayenne pepper
Hot sauce (use your favorite)
Bonus! Ground cinnamon adds a sweet, spicy warmth. Sounds weird, but it works.
In a large Dutch oven, sauté onions, carrots, celery, peppers, tomato, and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle with chili powder, salt, and pepper. When the carrots, onions, and celery are softened*, add the ground meat. Season again with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked through. Once the meat is fully browned, pour in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and beans. Stir. Season with all spices, including another round of chili powder, salt, and pepper. I typically season lightly this round. It’s always easy to add more seasonings if necessary. Correcting for over-seasoning proves rather impossible to achieve. IMPORTANT: Taste your chili. Adjust seasonings according to what you want more of. (I usually end up adding more chili powder and salt, but not always.) Bring the chili to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2-4 hours. Enjoy topped with your favorite shredded cheese, corn chips, sour cream, and green onions. Leftovers taste even better, and if you feel like you have chili coming out your ears, it freezes well.
* If you’re willing to try the tequila or vodka, dump it in now and cook for a few minutes before adding the ground meat to the pot.