I always find it curious that one of our favorite hearty meals to bring cold weather comfort is a homonym of the weather: Chili. And, it has been very chilly around here for the past few days. The first few days after last week’s snowstorm were glorious. The sun was shining, and though it was cold, the world was sparkling and bright. Howard and I went snowshoeing in the woods near our house with Bella, who enjoyed romping in the drifting snow.
Now it’s downright arctic with the thermometer reading in the teens and the wind taking things down towards zero. The end is in sight, but it is cold.
Chilly weather cries out for chili. A big giant pot of chili. So that’s what happened in my kitchen. There are so many different variations. I have a handful of different recipes I like making over and over. I like testing out new ones too. I even have a cookbook with just chili recipes. This weekend, I went with a tried-and-true recipe, the one I’ve been making since I had my first apartment.
There’s nothing special about this chili. It has all the expected elements: ground beef, beans, chili powder. It’s easy to prepare, can be on the table in an hour, and always hits the spot. This recipe can be tweaked for your preferences. I use a mild chili powder with some jalapeno. You can easily turn up the heat with a hotter chili powder or more jalapeno. I’ve made this with ground turkey. I’ve also made with half the meat. Any kind of bean works well: red kidney, black, pinto. The following is just this week’s version.
Chili for Chilly Weather
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, finely chopped
3-4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
1 finely minced jalapeno, fresh or pickled (optional)
1 Tbsp crumbled dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp ground cumin
¼ cup mild chili powder
1-28-oz can whole tomatoes in puree, tomatoes chopped or broken by hand into smaller pieces
1 cup beef broth
1 cup water
Salt & ground pepper
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained or 2 cups cooked kidney beans
Sour cream, lime wedges, and diced avocado to garnish
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil and add the meat. Cook, breaking down the lumps with a spoon as it browns. Add the onions, green pepper, celery, garlic, jalapeno, oregano, bay leaves, cumin and chili powder. Stir to blend well. Add the tomatoes, broth, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook about 20 minutes, stirring often. Add the beans and cook about 10 more minutes.
Serve in bowls over white rice and garnished with sour cream, lime wedges, and diced avocado. Cornbread with honey butter goes well on the side.