Many folks may think of chili as a dish to be enjoyed during the colder months of the year, but we eat it year round. Yes, even during the dog days of summer. It is the perfect accompaniment to a fresh summer salad and a glass of iced tea. Summer is the perfect time for making a big batch for canning or freezing since tomatoes and peppers are at their prime freshness. Like soups, spaghetti sauce and stews, chili is versatile and can be made with pantry staples that are already on hand.
I got the original recipe from the very first cookbook I purchased for myself shortly after we were married. I made it “by the book” for a number of years. As I became more confident in my cooking skills, I went rogue with the seasonings and amounts and learned just what and how much suit our tastes.
Chili is one of those dishes that never turns out the same twice, but it’s always delicious. It’s extremely forgiving and adaptable to most palettes or dietary restrictions (for example, cooked peppers cause digestive problems for my husband, so I omit them now).
The actual recipe calls for chopped chuck and hot Italian sausage. I typically just used ground beef and regular breakfast sausage. Over the years however, I’ve lightened the recipe by using a combination of ground turkey and lean ground pork or beef. You can make it using only turkey, but based on my experience, it is much better to combine with the pork or beef. The flavor is richer, but you’re still cutting down on a lot of the fat.
Making a big batch of chili was extremely economical when we were feeding two growing boys. It’s filling, packed full of protein, and tastes even better the second day. If you’re a canner, using home canned dried beans and vegetables will make this even more economical. While it is a one pot meal, there are several things that pair perfectly with chili based on the season. Rice, cornbread, rustic crusty bread, salad, or just a vegetable and fruit tray will provide a filling, frugal way to feed a crowd. I find that it freezes well, so I’m able to batch cook it to have a quick meal ready in no time.
This is my base recipe, but I taste it as I go and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Feel free to experiment with your own spices and quantities to suit your family’s tastes. If you like more, add more; if you like less, add less. If you don’t like something at all, leave it out and add flavor using something else. Also, the amounts of the beans and meats are “about” that amount. I’ve added more or less just based on what I had available.
- 2 T Oil (I use EVOO)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 diced bell pepper (can be omitted)
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 pound ground turkey (or beef)
- 1 pound ground sausage, your preferred choice (or ground pork)
- 1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes
- 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
- 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
- 1 jalapeno, diced fine (jarred is ok too; can also be omitted)
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 2 cans (16 0z) beans (kidney beans, red beans, pinto beans or a combination, undrained)
- My combination of spices: chili powder, cumin (about 1 tablespoon of each), salt, pepper, turmeric, garlic and onion powder all to taste
- In a 3 quart pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent and bell pepper is tender. Add meats and cook until browned. Add garlic and let cook for about 30-45 seconds.
- Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, jalapeno, brown sugar, and seasonings. Stir well and allow it to heat for a moment. Taste and begin adjusting seasonings to your taste. (Be sure to let it heat for a moment after each addition before tasting to avoid over seasoning.)
- Once it is seasoned how you want, cook on low for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Enjoy!
This makes approximately 10 generous servings.
I hope this becomes one of your favorite family recipes!