Good riddance, 2015. Although there were some amazing highs (Japan, spending more time with family), the year was overwhelmed by fresh starts and steeped in loss. As silly as it sounds, bowls of chili, prepared by my mom and stashed in my refrigerator, served as buoys of well-being throughout some challenging months. I came up with my own take on her chili, and then devised a bunch of different ways to eat it. I am sure this chili will continue to feature itself in what I hope will be 2016: The year of the new normal.
To make this chili, begin by soaking 1 cup of dried beans in water for about 8 hours. I used these pretty Orca beans. Then, add the soaked beans to a large pot of boiling, salted water, along with 2 bay leaves. Let the beans simmer for about 1 hour, until they are almost cooked (like al dente pasta), then drain them. Alternatively, you could skip this step and use 2 cans of the beans of your choice.
Then, brown 2 pounds of ground beef in at least a 5 quart pot. While the beef browns, mince 2 garlic cloves and small dice 1 onion, 1 bell pepper, and 1 jalapeño. Once the beef mostly cooked through, transfer it to a side bowl and pour the liquid out of your pot.
Drizzle some olive oil into the pot, and sweat the garlic, peppers, and onion. Once softened, add the ground beef back into the pot and season everything with salt and pepper. It’s time for the spices. Add in 1/2 cup of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of paprika, 1 tablespoon of cumin, and 1 teaspoon of oregano. Stir everything to evenly distribute the spices.
Then, stir in 8 ounces of tomato sauce, 16 ounces of diced tomatoes, and 2 cups of water. Partially cover the pot, and simmer the chili for 30 minutes. Add your beans to the pot, partially cover, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
When the chili is done cooking, add more salt and pepper to taste. If you’d like the chili to be spicier, mix in some cayenne pepper as well. This chili tastes even better after it has had a chance to rest in the refrigerator overnight. Here are some my favorite ways to serve it: in a bowl with crumbled tortilla chips; as a dip for tortilla chips; over a split baked potato with parsley and cheese; inside a halved roasted squash, such as delicata or acorn; over rice. I’m sure you can come up with a bunch more ways too! Freeze any extras for an easy, lazy-day dinner.
- Beans- 1 cup dried and 2 bay leaves, or 2 cans
- Ground beef- 2 pounds
- Onion- 1
- Bell pepper- 1
- Garlic- 2 cloves
- Jalapeño- 1
- Tomato sauce- 8 ounces
- Diced tomatoes- 16 ounces
- Olive oil
- Chili powder- 1/2 cup
- Paprika- 2 teaspoons
- Cumin- 1 tablespoon
- Oregano- 1 teaspoon
- Salt and pepper