Autumn is finally here, and it brings so many lovely things for us to enjoy. Warm sweaters, fresh apple cider, kicky boots with tights, football, and kids heading back to school. One of my favorite things about the cooler weather is that I can finally bring my slow cooker back up from the basement, where it has been gathering dust all summer, while we grilled and had picnics. There are few things that are better than coming in your front door, to be greeted by the delicious smell of a home-cooked meal, ready and waiting for you.
A particular favorite of mine is chili. It’s the perfect food for fall in so many ways: warm, hearty, and a little spicy. It is also a classic tailgate dish, which makes it great for the football season that is upon us. This recipe is easy to put together, can cook all day long, while you are at work, running errands, etc. So without further ado, here is the Best Chili Recipe.
Now this recipe is a substantial one. It makes enough to feed a decent-sized crowd, so feel free to halve it, if you are not going to be feeding a big group. Start with 2 lbs. ground chuck, two cans chili beans, two cans diced tomatoes, one small can plain tomato sauce, two onions, six cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of chili powder, 1 tbsp. of cumin, salt and pepper, and if you like things spicy, some cayenne pepper.
Begin by browning the ground chuck in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble the beef while cooking until it has achieved the consistency that you want. Some people like larger bite-sized pieces of meat in their chili, while others prefer a finer consistency. Either way is perfectly fine for this recipe.
Now some people fear onions. They say they don’t like them, or they are too strongly flavored, or they upset their delicate tummies, and all kinds of other things. They are wrong. Onions, in addition to providing tons of flavor to food, have health benefits too numerous to mention here. If you want to find out more about them, do a quick google search and read up for yourself. You will be amazed. If they still make you nervous, just use a sweet yellow onion. They are very mildly flavored, but onions are an essential component of this dish, so do not skip them. Thus endeth the lecture. So, finely chop your two onions and set aside.
Lather, rinse, repeat, the step above for the garlic. Once again; garlic = great flavor + good for you. Don’t make chili with out it.
Put your chili beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce into your slow cooker, and stir to combine.
Add your chili powder and cumin to season. I usually don’t add salt and pepper until mine has been cooking for a while, that way the flavors all have time to blend, and I don’t end up with chili that is overly salted.
Toss in the garlic, onion, and browned ground beef, and give everything a good stir. Pop the lid on, and set the heat on your slow-cooker. Put it on high, if you are starting it after noon, low if you are starting it in the morning.
Now look at that! Dinner is made, and you have the whole day ahead of you! Just think of all the things you can do, while your chili is cooking: go to work, paint a shelf, read a book, volunteer at your kid’s school, or even (shhhhh….) take a nap!
Dinner is ready, and your family (or your guests) are about to call you their newest hero. Taste it and do any last minute seasoning that you might like – salt, pepper, cayenne, etc. Ladle some into a bowl, and top it with some shredded cheddar, and you are good to go. Love in a bowl. Enjoy!