“My dad made the best chili” are fighting words in some circles. I don’t know if my dad’s was the best; I have not eaten every chili in the world. I do know that it was always good and now Keifel has been introduced the pleasures of my dad’s recipe and is addicted.
Let me state this up front: It has beans in it. Yes, I know this is blasphemy in Texas and to those that are devoted to the “bowl of red.” I like chili with beans. I can appreciate the fact there are those who don’t, I don’t think we need to feud over it.
Vic’s Dad’s Chili–the short version*
1 1/2 pounds ground meat (beef, venison or dark meat turkey)
6 oz. Coca-Cola
6 oz. beer (your choice as you get to drink the other half the beer)
3 to 4 medium to large onions, diced small
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3-4 Tablespoons ground chilies (NOT “chili powder” that foul defiler of all that is chili)
Approximately two quarts tomatoes, crushed (seeded if you prefer, I generally do)
1 pound dried beans, cooked OR 2-3 cans of beans (pinto, kidney or cranberry beans work best)
Season the ground meat with salt and pepper to taste (account for the salt in the tomatoes or beans if using canned) and brown in a large stock pot. Pour in the Coke and beer and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, saute the onions in a little oil until just translucent, add the garlic, powdered chilies and cumin and saute two or three minutes longer and add to meat (deglaze your saute pan with a little more beer–if you haven’t drunk it–or some water). After the 20 minutes add the tomatoes and simmer 30 minutes more. Add the beans at the end of that time and simmer an additional 30 minutes. The chili is good to go then but will taste much better the next day when the flavors have melded.
To make the chili hotter you can of course add more powdered chili or fresh peppers of some extraction (our most recent batch had a habanero–just one with the seeds was enough to make it very hot). I’ve had the best luck adding fresh peppers with the tomatoes. Growing up, we always had grated, sharp cheddar cheese as a garnish. My dad also liked soda crackers crumbled into his. My brother prefers corn tortilla chips and I have acquired a fondness for a dollop of sour cream either with or instead of the cheddar. Follow your bliss accordingly.
*Dad’s long version chili is this beast of a recipe that was published in Playboy in the 1960s, It has 20 some odd ingredients, one of which is woodruff. I have yet to attempt it as it starts with a large cut of beef which is currently not on the menu at our house. I won’t post it here as it’s copyrighted but if you’re interested email me at recipes@foodieporn and I will happily hook you up.)