Chili is one of those deeply personal dishes. Inspiring passion among those who make it, most have an exacting idea of how it should taste. A few weeks ago, I set out to make my own version of the dish. It was pretty intimidating, but I think I landed on something that works well for our family. Mild with a hint of smokiness and spice it won’t do the trick for all chili lovers, but makes us happy after a long day of Christmas shopping.
That being said, last night was only my second time making chili. I suspect that over the next few years this recipe will be tweaked and altered based on what’s in my spice drawer or pantry. What are your tricks to making the perfect bowl of chili?
Lane’s Mild Chili
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion diced
1 jalapeno seeded and diced
1 lb. lean hamburger
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1, 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1, 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add 1 diced, small onion to the pot. Sautee for about five minutes. Next, add the minced and seeded jalapeno. Feel free to add more jalapenos or leave the seeds in if you like more heat. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for about 3 minutes.
Next, add the hamburger. Season with salt and pepper and cook until browned.
At this point, add in the pinto beans, kidney beans, crushed tomatoes and sauce. Stir to combine. Then, add your spices, vinegar and sugar. If you don’t have ancho chili powder, regular chili powder will work just fine. Turn down the heat and let the chili simmer for about 15 minutes. It will thicken and reduce as it cooks.
Feel free to adjust the spices, vinegar and sugar to your tastes. I like to top my bowl with grated sharp cheddar. Keegan like his with crushed saltines.