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BASIC CHILI, REVISITED

I followed my own advice and tweaked my Minimalist Chili for some proper road food.

The result was fabulous and definitely worth sharing.

* * * * * * *


Remember Minimalist Chili? The recipe for which I perused dozens of other people’s chili recipes and then reduced them to their most basic common denominators? Here’s how I recently made a double batch of it, adding a few tweaks–


INGREDIENTS: (For a gallon or so of Basic Chili)


1 Can Light Red Kidney Beans

1 Can Regular Red Kidney Beans

1 Can Dark Red Kidney Beans

2 Cans PETITE Diced Tomatoes

2 1-lb. Packages Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef (or Bison)

½ lb. Sweet Italian Sausage (NEW!)

2 Large-ish Yellow Onions

2 Large Green Peppers (not hot)

1 Heaping TSP Processed Garlic

3 Stalks of Celery, FINELY Diced, enough for ~ 1 Cup. (NEW!)

½ Cup Chili Powder

¼ Cup Cumin

1-2 TBSP Tomato Paste

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper (NEW!)

1 TBSP (or more) Brown Sugar

Sriracha to taste, 1 TSP to start

Salt to taste, 1 TBSP to start


To make a batch of chili this size, organization and technique are paramount, so we need to do some prep to get started:


–Process the peeled cloves from 2 heads of garlic with pure-grade olive oil and transfer to a ½ pint deli container. Do NOT liquify the garlic. (You won’t come close to using it all for this recipe; it keeps nicely in the fridge.)


–Dice the onion, pepper, and celery; keep them in separate containers.


–Set up your pots– one to cook in, and 2 more to make a large double-boiler. You’ll also need a large mixing bowl, a strainer with wide holes, a vegetable masher, a small saucepan, and a large frying/saute pan.

My makeshift double boiler– a large pot with three ramekins and water.

My slightly smaller pot– the MAIN POT– fits nicely inside it.


STEP 1:

Place the pot that you will use for the insert of your double boiler on a hot burner. (We’ll call this the MAIN POT.) Sauté the onions until soft and translucent, add peppers and continue to sauté until they smell nice, then add celery and continue stirring. After a spell add the garlic, stir a bit longer, then place the main pot in the double boiler set-up as shown below. Crank up the heat beneath it, but do not boil so furiously that the water quickly disappears.

My workbench– the makeshift double-boiler, Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, a regulation-sized double boiler (for size comparison) and my ground meat a-browning.


STEP 2:

Thoroughly brown the meats in small enough batches to comfortably fit in a large frying pan, as shown. Add browned meats to the main pot.



STEP 3:

Set up your strainer atop a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly strain the petite diced tomatoes and add to the main pot. Do the same with the light and dark beans, but not the regular beans. Rinse one tomato can with just enough water, then use the same water to rinse the other three cans, pouring the water from one can to the next. When rinsing is complete, add the rinsing water to the mixing bowl.


STEP 4:

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly, then add to the main pot. Add just enough water so you can stir the whole batch fairly easily with a large kitchen spoon. At this stage, this batch of chili should be a little thinner than you would ideally want it. We’re almost done! Cover the pot and let it sit for an hour or more to allow the flavors to thoroughly integrate, stirring periodically. Using a double boiler provides the heat that helps the flavors integrate while avoiding burning any chili.


STEP 5:

Taste for saltiness and proper heat level. If you need more salt and/or heat, do NOT add directly to the main pot! Rather, ladle out about 1-1.5 pints of liquid from the main pot to your small saucepan and add SMALL amounts of salt and Sriracha. And now for my favorite chili hack– add the remaining can of beans to the saucepan and boil them until they offer no resistance to a potato masher. Simmer and stir until smooth and bubbles a little, then add to the main pot and mix well.


Now it’s done. If you want to make your batch of chili a little saltier and/or spicier, repeat the process of ladling out some liquid, thoroughly mixing in your additional seasonings, and adding it back to the batch. If you’d like the whole batch a little thicker, find some more beans to mash as before.


NOTES:


The double-boiler arrangement is a great way to offer chili for a large gathering.


Crème Fraîche makes a wonderful alternative to sour cream as a chili topping. (Recipe HERE.)

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