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”.
As a quick chile maker myself, your recipe gives me some spicing tips that I;m game to try. Being on a low carb diet I avoid the beans and cornstarch. I’d never thought to try chicken broth, or cumin and I’ll give it a go next time I make some.
For me, one of the most essential ingredients for chili is not edible. It is my heavy cast iron cooking pot with its cast iron lid.
I use a cast iron skillet for sautéing onions, bell peppers and whatever else needs a bit of fry time before adding to the mix.
For meat, if I use beef, I get a large chuck steak and dice it by hand. Takes a while, but cubed meat adds something that ground meat lacks; texture. We have started using bison at our house instead of beef. Cannot tell a taste difference, but definitely better for the cardiovascular system than beef.
A suggestion: You will need a very thin and very sharp slicing knife for dicing a large piece of chuck steak.
For the more traditional prep, I’m with you on the pot, but I use a dutch oven.
I will try this chili recipe next week. I will add cubed sirloin to the ground meat as I like the change it brings to the texture and the deepening flavor and also, once it is prepared and about 1/2 hour before serving, 1 tablespoon of brandy.
That sounds good but how thick is it?
Sounds good….. When we first moved to Texas, I started making soup in September as I always had but the problem was it was still 95 plus degrees. I learned to make green chile posole when we lived there, and it may be time to make some again. Chicken and wild rice soup is the staple here.
It’s not super thick this way (the French would call it nappe if it was a sauce), but you can always adjust up the slurry if you like it that way.
There is another option I forgot to add, but this optional ingredient can boost any red chili recipe:
It doesn’t take much. In this recipe, I’d add about a dozen semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. The cocoa really makes the chili powder pop, but you can’t even taste the chocolate in the finished dish.
Dark chocolate works best … I first read that tip during one of our free ranging discussions on food but it must have been at the other place because it was awhile ago and it must have been your tip. Anyway, I tried both kinds and preferred the dark. It would be interesting to analyze the chemistry involved.
It’s similar, I bet, to the change that takes place when one adds a touch of beer to finished bean soup and pulls up the flavor of the beans.
I know the brandy I add to chili works on the tomatoes but I don’t know how.
All three would be fun lab experiments.
I do not endorse making chile out of moles. It takes a lot of them and they are hard to clean. Shrews are even worse.
Seriously, it’s the same principle utilized in mole, but not nearly as much chocolate. If you can actually taste the chocolate in the chili? You’ve added too much.
Voles are the worst!
Yummy…. But you need habaneros to make it real warm.