Fall is here and it’s chili time. I like all kinds of it too. Traditional red, New Mexico red, New Mexico green, with beans, without, so long as it’s rich and warm when the weather turns cool. But traditional chili recipes take time. That’s not a bad thing either as they develop a depth of flavor that is unmatched. However, sometimes you don’t have several hours to wait. When time is of the essence, I make a quick chili that has robust flavor, but the prep time is about 15 minutes and you let it simmer about an hour and a half. Here it is (with variations):
Gene’s Quick Chili
1 lb. ground beef (85/15) or chili ground beef (usually 80/20 unless you custom order it from the butcher), if you’re not going to use beans or hominy, use 2 lbs. of beef.
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 medium or 1 whole small onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 quart chicken broth
2 Knorr Beef Stock packages
2 tbs. chili powder (your choice of blend)
1 tsp. ground cumin plus 1/4 tsp. set aside
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flour or 2 tbsp. corn starch
Optional: 1 can, drained, of black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans or white hominy.
In a 4 quart pot, add chicken broth, beef stock, diced tomatoes with liquid, chili powder, 1 tsp. of cumin. Add beans or hominy.*
Bring to simmer over medium/low heat.
In a large skillet, brown the beef with the onions and garlic. About half way through the cooking process, add the 1/4 tsp. cumin, black pepper and salt. Brown and drain excess oil off if necessary (often not with the 85/15). Add beef mixture to pot. Simmer for an hour minimum.
About 10 minutes before serving, take flour or cornstarch and make a slurry with equal parts of the cooking liquid. Add back to pot. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Serve.
Optional toppings: saltine crackers, grated cheese, sour cream, green onions, diced jalapenos, or whatever your lil’ heart desires.
*Notes: I suggest trying the hominy if you are serving to someone with a problem digesting beans or just to experiment. I usually make mine with black or pinto beans, but I tried the hominy (borrowing the idea from the traditional Mexican posole) when making it for a special needs guest and it works like a charm. I suggest the white hominy though. I’ve tried it with yellow and I thought the taste was strong enough to really alter the taste profile of the soup whereas the white hominy brought a milder flavor change but retained much of the chew of the replaced beans.
One of the keys to this quick version is the chicken stock and Knorr Beef Stock (the small “gel” packs). Don’t skimp on the quality of ingredients there. It really bumps the flavor to where it is comparable to a slow cooked version of the dish. Avoid bouillon though as the result will be too salty. Only use ground beef as this cook time will not allow enough time for any diced cut beef to properly breakdown braising enough to be tender.
The slurry choice is a matter of preference, but remember to bring it to a boil after adding it back to the soup. Both flour and corn starch have to come to a boil to properly thicken, but usually the flour requires a bit more cook time not to “taste raw”.