Quick & Easy Chili Absolutely Everybody Will Like (w/Secrets & Tips)

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  1. I worked hard on this, so I hope you'll read at least some of it.
    First the Recipe, then the notes and tips

    INGREDIENTS

    1 lb ground sirloin or ground round
    2 largish sweet onions
    2 large sweet bell peppers (see note on peppers below)
    almost 1 can tomato paste
    2 cans Hunt's fire roasted diced tomatoes
    1 can Ro-tel original
    1 can Bush's dark red kidney beans, drained
    chili powder (ground dried chile ancho)
    chipotle chile powder
    ground cumin
    garlic powder
    salt
    Tabasco chipotle sauce
    red wine
    Coca-Cola classic
    balsamic vinegar
    red wine vinegar
    (If you are Greek, you are, as you know, required by law to also add a dash of cinnamon)

    Vegan version - lose the beef, double onions and peppers

    Double/triple/quadruple etc version - Use a bigger pot, double/triple/quadruple etc everything but spices, take extra care in initial spice-dump, taste carefully thereafter.

    DIRECTIONS

    Put a big pot on the fire and let it get hot

    When the pot is hot, throw the ground beef in - by itself, no oil, no butter, no nothing, and use a wooden fork to scrape where it sticks at first and stir it around. Gently break up clumps by sticking the fork in the middle and turning it. Do NOT mash it down with a big spoon or anything else.

    When all the red is gone from the meat, drain it and put the pot back on the fire.

    Dump in everything but the kidney beans, cut the fire way down, and let it bubble for about 10 minutes. Taste to see what spices you need more of (See section on adding spices directly below).

    Make sure you drained the kidney beans, then put them in, stir arround a bit, and let it bubble for about 10 more minutes.

    (Or you can put the kidney beans in a dish as an accompaniment, to keep your chli untainted for the people who do not like beans in chili).

    Take the pot off the fire and cover it.

    [FONT=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][SIZE=+1]↓ [/SIZE][/FONT]Continued - Secrets [FONT=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][SIZE=+1]↓[/SIZE][/FONT]
     
  2. THE SECRETS:
    1) NO water. A major secret of this chili's deliciousness is that much of the liquid will be provided by the onions and peppers, as they cook down and release their juice. The rest of the liquid will come from the diced tomatoes and Ro-tel liquid, and of course, the wine, but it's there to contribute and enhance flavor, not provide liquid.

    2) Sliding Scale Spices. When the chili needs to please people who dislike a lot of flavor, by using only sweet bell peppers and adding a smaller amount of spices to the chili itself, and then SERVING it with accompaniments that allow guests to add as little or as much of several different flavors as they like, you can accomodate the whole spectrum of preferences with one single batch of chili!

    3) Diet Friendliness. Except for the hamburger, which will not even be present if you're doing the vegan version, nothing in the recipe has bad stuff in it, like lots of calories, or fat, and the only sugar is in "spice" quantity - there's some in the little bit of balsamic vinegar, and the small amount of coca-cola - or sugar itself - that you add to keep the spirits of bitterness away from the tomatoes.

    4) Speed. Because the vegetables and beef are the only things that you're actually cooking, and they cook fast, you do not have to let this chili sit on the stove and "simmer" for hours, or even an hour. The diced tomatoes, etc have already been cooked, so this chili will be ready after 20-30 minutes of total cooking time.

    ADDING SPICES
    This is VERY important if you will be serving your chili to people who don't enjoy strong flavors or "spicy" food: When you first add your spices (chile powders (both plain and chipotle), Tabasco chipotle sauce, cumin, garlic powder and salt) put in less of each than you think you will need.

    Now you can change to a big spoon, but don't mash anything with it, just stir all that around to mix it up, cut the fire down, and when a little pool of liquid bubbles up, taste it, and add more of anything you need to add more of. Tip: If it doesn't "taste enough like chili" to you yet, but some of your guests may find even the very mild "spiciness" of chile powder disagreeable, add just a little bit more plain chili powder, and a medium amount of more cumin, because cumin will give you "chili flavor" without spiciness.

    Strange as it may seem, there are also some people who "don't like a lot of garlic."

    While shaking your head in bewilderment, accomodate the unfortunate creatures by not adding more garlic to the chili itself, but fear not. Regular people who have a natural physiological need for large quantities of garlic will be taken care of. Hang on.

    Of course, if the chili is to be eaten only by regular people, you can go ahead and add the amount of everything according to your taste.

    Once you have mixed in your basic spices, go ahead and dump in about half a cup of any old red wine you have handy, a nice glug each of balsamic vinegar and Coca-Cola, stir that in, taste the bubble up, and see how much red wine vinegar you will need to add, or if you need a little more Coca-Cola.

    When it tastes right, throw in the rest of the chopped onions and the kidney beans. The kidney beans are already cooked, remember, so adding them last will keep them from getting too mashed up by all that bubbling and stirring.

    The reason for dividing them up is to add more texture variety. By this time, most of your original onions will be cooked way down, when that second load of onions are pretty much cooked but still chunky and almost-crisp, and the chili tastes just right, you can take the pot off the fire - your chili is done!

    PEPPERS
    There are who knows how many different varieties of peppers available to earth residents. Science has even come up with an actual quantitative tool that classifies them according to how much flavor each has, with sweet bell peppers at one extreme and habaneros and some of those yummy little Asian peppers on the other.

    That low end of the flavor dial position held by sweet bell peppers is really another secret of this chili - If you cook those and ONLY those peppers in your chili, it will be enjoyed even by people for whom other peppers are actually painful to eat - it makes them feel as if their mouth is burning, and some will even break out in a rash or blisters!

    For everybody else, having all the other peppers chopped up and in attendance at your accompaniment banquet - and especially if you lightly sautee a few of them - the result will be the same as if you had added them from the start!

    For Mr Puff and me, chili is a sort of pepper stew - the ideal way to enjoy a dazzling array of my favorite peppers together - the sweet bell peppers we like the most are those longish red ones - red from being left on the vine, not genetically modified in Holland. I like to get the ones that are on sale, that need to be used today or tomorrow - not just because I'm poor, but because they are sweeter and more flavorful. (They also have less water, so chili made with those will be thicker than chili made with very crisp and juicy green bell peppers!)

    While the basic recipe says 2 large bell peppers, that can be thought of as a bulk measure as much or more than specification of an ingredient. When I make chili just for the two of us - or for guests who all like the different peppers, at least half of the pepper contingent will be a combination of chopped-up jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, tiny asian peppers, even ones I can't identify but looked really good at the market, and the other half will be the biggest "USE TODAY" longish red bell peppers from the "Manager's Special" bin!

    I also like to add a mixture of ground up fresh green and black peppercorns, or when those aren't available, a tablespoon or two of coarse ground black pepper.

    ↓ Continued - Accompaniments & Tablescape ↓
     
  3. ACCOMPANIMENTS
    Even aside from the critical issue of "spiciness," or lack thereof, People tend to be very attached to their chili preferences.

    When serving a diverse crowd, especially if it includes people with whose chili beliefs you are unfamiliar, assume the entire range.

    This means that even if your chili is made for the most delicate palate, like the basic recipe above, someone there will still want to "cool it down" with grated cheese, and yes, there are people who just don't feel like it's chili without sour cream in it, and nothing shows what a tolerant and universally accepting person you are by having such people in your home to eat chili and putting a dish of sour cream where they can reach it.

    Conversely, even if your chili is bursting with flavor, some of your guests will still want to add some more peppers.

    Your selection of accompaniments and condiments can be as large and varied, or as basic and compact as you want, but at a minimum, should include the following:

    Grated cheese - (If you are going to have only one dish of grated cheese, use that Sargento Mexican Cheese in a bag. It's the safest bet). For a more sumptuous outlay, add a dish of Extra Sharp Cheddar, one of Mozzarella, and at least one of something smoked, like Cheddar or Gouda.

    Sour cream - If you have only one dish of it, choose light. If you're going all out, have regular, light, and fat-free.

    Onions: Green/Spring Separate the white from the green, if people like both, they can hit two bowls. Deluxe version: add some of the same sweet onions that are in the chili, as well as some red/purple ones.

    Peppers: This is the heart, the star of the accompaniments show - peppers even have their own special section (scroll up if you missed it).

    Unless you know for a fact that everyone present is averse to highly flavored foods of any kind, the pepper section of your accompaniment buffet should have, at the very least: fresh chopped jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, and tiny Asian peppers, and pickled jalapenos and "banana" peppers. Deluxe version - This is where you get to go nuts. Just visit your local farmer's market, get some of every pepper you can find, chop each one and put it in a dish. Even if you don't know what they are, the people who like them will. Super Deluxe Version - In addition to fresh chopped raw peppers, offer little dishes of the most popular ones that you have sauteed in just a smoosh of vegetable oil or I Can't Believe It Costs More Than Butter.

    Bottled condiments: Just put out the most popular ones - The same Tabasco chipotle you put in the chili, plus regular Tabasco/Louisiana Hot Sauce/Texas Pete, Sriracha, Yucateca Brand habanero sauce, Pace Chunky Salsa, etc

    Homemade Specialties: If you want to make your own tomatillo salsa/pico de gallo/chimol, forget the Pace and use that - or all of those. Ditto grandma's homemade pepper relish, zhug, etc.

    Cilantro: chop up a big bunch of fresh leaves and throw them in a dish.

    Garlic: have dishes of minced/mashed up fresh garlic bits, both raw and sauteed. Deluxe Version - have a dish of oven-roasted whole "teeth" too!

    Ground pepper: Cracked or coarse black pepper, mixed fresh ground peppercorns, African cayenne

    Lime: Just throw some wedges on a plate!

    BREAD
    As with accompaniments in general, how lavish you want to be is up to you.

    We really like cornbread with chili, so when it's just the 2 of us, we usually just have that.

    But especially if you are feeding a large and varied crowd, or there is a bread product you particularly like or are famous for, by all means have that instead - or in addition - along with tortillas, parathas, croissants, sourdough slices, whatever. Don't forget to put out dishes of softened butter AND I Can't Believe It Costs More, since there are people who feel very strongly about having one or the other!

    TABLESCAPE
    Even the most modest selection of accompaniments means a LOT of dishes, so even if you are so crazy/pathologically insistent that everyone see your china that you absolutely must serve the chili itself in non-disposable bowls, use throwaway ones for your condiments. If that idea pains you, gently remind yourself that this is the only way they'll all match.

    One of the advantages of putting out so many accompaniments is that they can pretty much BE the tablescape. At least some of them, because if you have a lot of them, and a lot of people, you will almost surely need to make an accomaniment "station" somewhere.

    But if you want to get creative, you can take a few of the most popular ones, like shredded cheese and green onions and serve them IN peppers - either sliced in half lengh-wise as if you were going to stuff them, or with the tops cut off and put back on as "lids." (You can do this with onions, too, but it's a lot more work to hollow out an onion!)

    As a fan of the sweeping disregard for accurate culinary/cultural history school of party decor, of the tacky-with-an-edge subgenus (and who isn't?) when I want to do something really fancy for a Special Chili Occasion, sometimes I take a few of those old school fabric masa sacks, rip them at the seams, arrange the resulting raggedy rectangles haphazardly on one or more horizontal surfaces, and taking care to make sure some of the writing on the sacks remains visible, intersperse some pretty shiny whole peppers in various colors with those cut-pepper containers of cheese, green onions, and what-have-you.

    To that I add a few obviously partially used bottles of Tabasco and Louisiana Pete, Yucateca etc., stained labels and all, accent with little spilled piles of cumin and chili powder here and there, and finish off the entire resulting fabumess with a strategic sprinkle of cilantro leaves.

    Now THAT's Elegant Dining Art!
     
  4. I was debating on what to cook for myself for the new week as I am on my last container of potato cheese soup (taste good when reheated but better on stove to avaoid cheese from curdling kinda). I think I want to do this but I will have to make a trip to the grocery for onions, peppers, beans,....oh heck, all I have is the beef and tomato paste. :sad: I will try this. Thanks Shimma! I've never made chili before. I am born and raised in the Philippines and I don't think it's big there. But when I came to the US, oooh...I love it!
     
  5. Wow!! You sure worked hard on this! I enjoyed reading your recipe..and will have to give it a try..thanks for sharing..:flowers:
     
  6. I will try this. I frequently make your tuna salad for tuna haters, and really like it!
     
  7. ^^^Interesting...tuna salad for tuna haters..?:smile:
     
  8. Thanks for the great post! I've been meaning to make chili for soooo long, and your delicious/easy looking recipe looks like a great place to start. Thanks for laying it all out for us. :tup:
     
  9. Oh, if you grew up in the Philippines, you should definitely go for the multi-pepper version we like!

    The rapidity of the cooking process means that you get the best of both worlds, in that the flavors of all the different peppers are retained, but enough of their juice mixes together with everything else, so the result is out of this world!

    I can't wait to hear how everybody's turns out! :smile:
     
  10. thanks for this shimma! i've been wanting to make chili for awhile now.. :smile:
     
  11. first off, definitely trying this!

    second... will you adopt me? :P lol
     
  12. Thanks for the chilli recipe, Shimma! I haven't made it in years, and had pretty much forgotten how. You've inspired me!
     
  13. :nuts:

    I'm buying the rest of the ingredients this weekend. That's it. LOL, I'm hungry now and I'm about to go to bed!