Click to enlarge - A large pot of chili and beans.

Hot and Spicy

Chili Recipes

Chili Beans?...Self-appointed purists may turn up their noses when the word bean is used in conjunction with chili. "After all," they say, "real chili is made, like Texas Red, without beans." Well, Texas Red may be considered by some to be real chili, but I like chili beans and that nakes it real chili to me! I like the rich, deep flavor of the different chilies but if it brings tears to my eyes then it is just too hot. I don't like that. A little zing to waken the togue is good but fire that numbs the mouth is just too much.

We can probably agree that the appreciation of chili, either with or without beans, warm with chili peppers or a roaring fire, is entirely a subjective matter. The neophyte chili eater would probably find even a mild chili very hot while the old hand at chili would relish in comfort a chili that would melt most other mouths. Herein lies the problem with making the perfect chili - it would only be perfect for the maker and not exactly right for everyone else. The best that you can expect to make with this long-historied dish is a good compromise.

The story is told that the cattle drovers, tired of the same old beef steak every night, played with the local spices and herbs and that their concoctions became chili. As the story goes, it would seem that the drovers butchered cattle as they went to supply all of their meat needs. I find it hard to believe that the owner of the cattle would approve of supplying beef carte blanche for the drovers. I would expect that beans, rice, corn and bread would have provided most of the diet and that a limited supply of "contingency" beef, suplimented with wild game, would have been stretched by making a spicy stew that became chili. And possibly, just possibly, that early cattle-drive chili would have had beans in the recipe as well.

Click to enlarge - Quick and easy, Skillet Chili.

Quick and Easy

Skillet Chili and Beans

My first effort at chili making was as a latch key kid in the early fifties. My father had spent a lot of time teaching us kids the ins and outs of the kitchen. We watched and tried to help him when he made dinner after coming home from a hard day's work. Then one day I decided to have dinner ready for Dad when he came home. Chili was the dish to make and I made it all in one big cast-iron frying pan. Hence, the name, Skillet Chili...

The recipe has served me well over the years. It was a favorite at home with Dad and Sis as well. It was also a dish that became a request item at the Boy Scout pot-luck suppers. I always felt proud that my pan left the Scout hut clean after those suppers. I hope that you enjoy this chili as much as I do and that you will add chapters to its long and proud history.

Preparation Time : 1 hour

Serves 4 to 6 persons

Life Experience Recipe

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 7-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (more or less to taste)
  • 3 15-ounce cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Grated cheddar cheese and diced onions for garnish
  1. Heat skillet, and I mean a big caast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. Add oil and onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté until onion is transparent. remove to plate.
  2. Add ground beef to pan and cook until no longer pink. While cooking, break ground meat into small pieces. With spoon, skim and remove excess fat from the pan.
  3. Return vegetables to pan and add tomato sauce and tomato paste. Add spices and mix well. Simmer over low heat. Taste and adjust spices as needed. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add kidney beans, mix well and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. remove from heat.
  5. Sprinkle with grated cheese and allow to melt. Serve with chopped onions available for garnish.
  6. This recipe makes a large skillet full of chile and beans and makes a good meal for 4 or 5 persons. Suggest biscuits or corn bread to accompany - and hot tortillas wouldn't be bad either.
Click to enlarge - The world's best chili and beans.

The World's Best

Chili and Beans

Over the years since I first made the skillet chili, I have tasted many a chili and chili bean dish. Some I liked and some I found wanting but none was the perfect chili (to my taste, at least). There was only one thing to do and that was to make the ideal, perfect chili and beans myself. Over the years I have come up with the following recipe that, if not the perfect chili and beans, is at least the best compromise according to all who have tasted it. This is a large recipe that makes enough for a large dinner and enough left over to freeze for later.

Preparation Time : 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves up to 15 persons

Life Experience Recipe

Ingredients for meat and sauce:
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 pounds London broil, fine cubed
  • 2 Bermuda onions, diced
  • 1 purple onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow or orange sweet pepper, diced
  • 4 Anaheim chilies, roasted, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Jalapeéño chilies
  • 2 yellow chilies
  • 1 red chili
  • 1 32-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 32-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Chili powder to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Ingredients for beans:
  • 1 pound dried red beans
  • 1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 7-ounce cans condensed beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  1. Inspect and cull dried beans. Remove any defective beans and foreigh matter. Cover with cool water and soak overnight. Drain.
  2. Place beans in a large pot. Add cans of beef broth, 14-ounce can of tomato sauce and enough water to cover by 1/2-inch. Add chili powder, cumin, allspice and onion powder. Bring to a boil while stirring. reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender (about 1 hour). Allow to cool and place in covered bowl in the refriogerator overnight.
    • Substitution: Six large cans (30-ounce) of Hunt's Chili Beans can be substituted. Open the cans and pour the beans into a screen colander to drain the packing sauce.
    Roast Anaheim chilies: Turn range burner on high. Place chilies directly over the fire. have tongs ready to turn chilies. When the skin chars and turns black, turn chilies. The kitchen will fill with the wonderful aroma of roasting chilies and you will seemingly transported to the kitchen of a hacienda. When all the skin has blackened, remove from fire. After chilies have cooled, rub under running water to remove blackened outer skin. Trin top and bottom, slice open and remove seeds and membrane. Dice and set aside.
    • Substitution: One 7-ounce can of Ortega diced green chilies can be substituted but you will miss the aromatic experience of roasting your own chilies.
    Dice onions and sweet peppers, mince garlic cloves. To prepare the chili peppers, trim off stem ends and slice peppers lengthwise. This will expose the inside of the chili and the seeds and membrane which has most of the heat of the chili. Remove the seeds and membrane and discard. We are using the chilies for the flavor and will be later adding chili powder to control the pungency of the dish. Finely dice the chilies. Note:If you are sensitive to capsicum, the "fire" element in chili, wear rubber gloves when handling the chilies and be careful not to touch your face or eyes. Heat frying pan, add oil and diced vegetables and chilies. Sauté until onions are transparent. Remove vegetables and set aside.
  3. Add ground meat and cook until no longer pink. While cooking, break ground meat into fine bits. Drain off excess fat. Remove ground meat and set aside. Add cubed London broil and cook until just done. Return ground meat and sauted vegetables to the pan. Add diced Anaheim chilies, spices, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Mix well and simmer over low heat.
  4. The chili peppers have cooked a minimum time, just long enough to flavoe the oil. From this point on, the longer the chilies cook, the less spice heat they will have. After tasting, we will add chili powder in incriments to acheive the desired pungency.
  5. With a slotted spoon to drain off cooking liquid, add the cooked beans to the chili and meat mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes to meld the flavors. Taste and adjust the spices to your personal taste. Simmer an additional 10 minutes.

The beans have a deep beefy and chili flavor. The chili with its tomato and combination of ground and cubed beef make a rich beefy tomato sauce to carry the flavors of the onions, sweet and hot peppers. Depending on my mood, I sometiomes like shredded cheddar chees sprinkled over the top as a garnish and sometimes I like a big handful of diced Bermuda onions sprinkled over a big steaming bowl of chili. Sometimes I have both the onions and the cheese.

The chili is rich and full flavored and makes a wonderful main dish. However, ladled over an open-faced wiener and bun, a new meaning is given to the term chili dog and chili burgers, well, they are just simply out-of-this-world.

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Latest revision done September 2014
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