Chili Two or Three Ways

Chili may be one of those perfect meals. Done right, it has every major food group. It is super economical. It freezes well. It’s Super Bowl food. Sunday night food. And easily-nuked-for-lunch-leftovers food.


And there are millions of ways of tweeking the recipe, so you don’t get bored. Here’s my recipe for chili and my latest twist.

My Basic Chili Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons of oil (I always use olive, but use whatever you have)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1-1/2 pounds of meat (Get the fatty stuff. It’s cheaper and tastier.)
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 35 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 squirts of tomato paste from the tube
  • 1/4 cups of chili powder (the best that you can find. Quality matters here.)
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne
  • 3 15.5 oz. cans of beans (Use whatever you have. I like black beans and pink beans.)
  1. Saute the onion, pepper, and garlic in the oil in a large frying pan. Dump in a big pot.
  2. Brown the meat. Drain in colander. Dump in a big pot.
  3. Add spices, both kinds of tomatoes, and broth. Cook for 45 minutes.
  4. Add beans. Cook for another 15 minutes.

At this point, you’ll have an awesome dinner. Put out little bowls of cilantro, sour cream, hot peppers, hot sauce, and grated cheese. This meal will feed about 10-12.

But why stop there? If you’re on Day 2 of the chili or you’re just feeling fancy, there are other ways to use the chili. Add it over hot dogs or German sausages for a deconstructed chili dog. I like to add it on top of chunks of sweet potatoes that were simply boiled in salt water.


Chili, chunks of sweet potato, sour cream, and cilantro (that should really be a bowl of tons of cilantro, but I’m a lousy food stylist.)


Put four or five nice chunks of sweet potato on the bottom of the bowl.


Smother with chili.


Top with sour cream and tons of cilantro.

9 thoughts on “Chili Two or Three Ways

  1. Great idea with the sweet potato. We serve over brown rice. I also love green chili stew with either chicken or pork.


  2. Hmm, chili is something we have never cooked and rarely eaten. I don’t know why. Sometimes I can see with clarity that Laura’s diet is more Mediterranean than ours, but that doesn’t apply here since we eat quesadillas and sometimes tacos.

    Last night, I made caramel (or candied) potatoes. The Journal had a recipe from the incredibly famous Rene Redzepi, but after I made it, further research revealed that it was exactly the same as the recipe in my mother-in-law’s old Time-Life “The Cooking of Scandinavia.”


  3. We’ve got the annual chili cook-off at the office next Tuesday, so this is well timed.

    I usually make an ‘American’ chili similar to yours (but with pinto beans and no stewed tomatoes) and a ‘Texas’ chili with stew meat, chiles, cumin, onions and garlic — no beans, and definitely no tomatoes. One of them wins every other year.

    Lately I’ve been branching out a bit after trying the chili at 24 Diner, which is made with several different cuts of meats. The heterogeneous mouth-feel is amazing, so I’ve been attempting that with standard ground meat, chili grind, and stew meat all in the same dish. Another variation has been to chop up the onions, garlic, and chiles together, but only pitch half of the results in when I start cooking. The other half is divided into a quarter I pitch in the next morning when I’m warming up the chili, and a quarter I pitch immediately before serving. The combination of slow-cooked stew with raw-garlic burn is exquisite.

    Two years ago I won the ‘hottest’ category with a meat-heavy ‘American’ variety with 6-9 habaneros, 6 red jalapenos, 3 dozen cayennes, and a tablespoon of ground, dried, smoked jalapenos, all home-grown. I also used a quarter-cup of cumin and 3 domestic beers (Lone Star, of course) to provide sweetness to offset the bitterness you get with lots of peppers or cumin. It’s been a recipe I’ve continued to make for take-to-work lunches since then, though I skip the habaneros nowadays.

    My wife loved the idea of a sweet-potato combination. I don’t care for yams, but Irish potatoes and chili do go well together, so I’ll believe you when you say they work. I generally put a spoonful of chili on a saltine cracker, so I’m no purist.


  4. Ben – Yow! the GERD specialists in your town must send you a nice bottle every Christmas, all those new patients.

    We did fifteen bean soup, since we were snowed in. Hearty, yes! and it cleaned out all the left over meat in miscellaneous Tupperwares.


  5. My husband hunts and the kids won’t eat deer if they KNOW it’s deer. Chili is a great vehicle for disguising deer. I also love that white bean and chicken chili. We always have cornbread with chili.


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