A few days ago, I was having a difficult time coming up with some way to talk about this chili recipe. Chili doesn’t really seem like an appropriate top to discuss while experiencing the first 80+ degree weekend, when my apartment is stuffy and hot because the heat hasn’t been switched to A/C. But I finally dug out this recipe from my mom and have made it a few times over the winter, and just not talked about it. Still, I was wary to bring it up.
But I should have known that Chicago would throw me a bone. I wore tights, a coat and a scarf today and had sleet fall on my head while walking home from the bus. Suddenly, chili seems appropriate. Warm, comforting, easy.
This is the chili that I grew up on. My Mom had the recipe for “Dave’s Chili”, as in Dave Thomas (not my Dave) since I could remember. One of my favorite meals to pick up after a late marching band practice in high school or sorority meeting or class in college was a small bowl of Wendy’s Chili and a Baked Potato. Cheap, easy, and reasonably healthy fast food. This chili is sorta like that. It doesn’t take a lot of time, maybe 40 mins if you need to cook something up quick but it can also simmer on the stove for an hour or two to let all the flavors meld. Make some now and freeze the leftovers, for the next time the city of your choosing decides that it isn’t fully into Spring just yet.
This chili isn’t fancy but its good, and tastes exactly like the chili from Wendy’s, which is a good thing in my opinion.
1 1/2 to 2 pounds of ground beef or turkey (I used 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey thigh but if you like a more meaty chili go with 2)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)
1/2 cup diced celery (4-5 stalks)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper (1 medium)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
1 quart tomato juice
1/2 cup chili powder(I used medium from The Spice House)
2 Tablespoons cumin
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning (or oregano)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle peppers (if you don’t stock them, just omit; but track some down because its delicious)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 or 2 cans of Kidney beans (I used one and threw in about 1/3 of a can of leftover black beans I had in my fridge; feel free to use 2 or whatever bean you like)
Optional Toppings: Sour Cream, Grated Cheese (cheddar, mexican blend, whatever)
Brown the meat in a dutch oven or large pot and drain away any fat. In a separate pan (or in the same with the meat, either way) saute the onions, celery and bell pepper in a little olive oil until soft. Add to the ground meat. Add the tomato juice, crushed tomatoes and all the spices to the dutch oven and stir to combine. Let simmer over medium low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the canned beans and stir to combine. Simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or however long you want.
Serve in bowls with a little sour cream and cheese on top.