Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Meaty Chili

I've been making this recipe, or some variation thereof, ever since I was in college. Sheesh! ... I'm feeling old already! I had an off-campus apartment, and was thrilled to play house with my roommates. Instead of each of us fending for ourselves, I asked everyone contribute to a weekly grocery pot, and I and one other roommate went grocery shopping every week, and we cooked regular meals for the whole house. At that time, we were living on $20/week each, and that often left us with a surplus in the "food fund", as we called it. Ah ... memories. So, I've been a bit of a Susie Homemaker right from the start. We ate better than any other college kids we knew, so I think it was well worth it. For frame of reference, I graduated from college in 1995.

This recipe evolved out of some trial and error with one other roommate, and has continued to evolve ever since. I'm not sure a Texas chili competition would even give it a second glance (or a first), but my family enjoys it, and that's what counts to me.

Meaty Chili
2 lbs. ground meat (beef, bison, ostrich, dark meat turkey, dark meat chicken)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 red pepper, cored and diced
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1-2 Tbsps. chili powder
salt & pepper, to taste
2 15 oz. can beans (kidney, pinto, black, aduki), drained and rinsed
shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, jalapeno jack)
tortilla chips (optional)

In a dutch oven or other heavy, deep pot, brown the meat over medium heat. There is no reason to add oil as the meat will have its own fat. Once browned, drain excess fat. Add garlic, onion, carrots, celery and red pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent and soft. Add canned tomatoes, chili powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a bubble, but not a true boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Serve topped with shredded cheese. Use tortilla chips as a scoop to eat with.

Note: You can easily throw in other veggies that you need to use up. This last time, I threw in the few leaves of kale I had left. I just tore them up and threw them in the pot.

This recipe serves about 10-12 people, so feel free to cut back if you don't want to make so much. It's also a great recipe for parties. Just put it in a crock pot on warm, and let people serve themselves. We did this at my daughter's last birthday party, since I thought it would satisfy the pizza and burger crowd without actually getting pizza and burgers. I made it in advance and froze it, so it wasn't a bother at all. It was a big hit!

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