It’s a cold, dreary Sunday in my part of the world and that means 2 things.
1. Slow cooked comfort meals
2. Crochet planning and blankets. ( Also, cranky lady. Cold means the dreaded s-word aka snow. I am very much over winter and its snow and ice. )
So let’s talk chili for a moment. Chili is the cold weather go-to in my house because it’s easy, so so easy to make. You can use a heavy stockpot like I do or use your slow cooker, just brown the ground beef and spices, put them in the crockpot, add the remaining ingredients and let it cook away. Add stock as needed and be sure to season to taste before you serve! Thing is, this is isn’t a recipe per se. In fact, you should see this as a building block. A foundation to make your own. Want it hot? Set it on fire with chilis, hot sauce and more. Love your carbs? Serve it over rice, corn chips, pasta. Whatever works for you and yours. Make what you love, love what you make. ( Nutmeg and soy sauce. Yes. )
Supporting cast of awesome
Why do I saute my spices?
Look at that! The spices have roasted and woken up and it smells so good. Why do I add tomato paste at this stage? Because caramelized tomato is amazing. It’s about flavor. It’s about taking your ingredients to the next level. Chili ( or spaghetti sauce, but that’s a post for another day ) is comfort food, it’s homey and simple and good. Anything we can do to make it even more amazing must be done. Take the extra steps, it’s worth it.
Nutmeg and soy sauce? Yes, I know. Some will understand the beauty of nutmeg in chili, others are wondering what the heck this crazy lady is talking about. Strange combo for chili, right? And yet, no, not strange at all. Again, it’s about flavor but these 2 humble ingredients give that flavor depth. You won’t taste soy sauce ( unless you add a ton of it, don’t do that. ) or the nutmeg and yet, you will. Secrets 101, ya’ll. It’s richness and depth that makes a subtle change but an amazing one.
Lastly, time. One of the most important ingredients, really. Reducing our liquids, spices melding together, onion and beef and beans coming together to make one pot of awesome. That needs time to happen. Slow cooker or stockpot, just give it time. ( Isn’t that bay leaf gorgeous?! Buy fresh, store in the freezer. I also forgot to toast my cumin seeds, as you can see. Don’t do that either. ) As one of my kitchen idols says, ” Your patience will be rewarded. ” ( Good Eats is coming back, yes!!!!!! )
Easy meal for the win, ya’ll. More time to work on those crochet projects for Christmas. Yay!
p.s. I have no affiliation with the products I use, I just love them!
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 32 oz beef stock, unsalted
- 1 can 28 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 can fire roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 c. V-8 juice or equivalent
- 1 15 oz can of Ranch Beans, 2 if you like more beans
- 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp raw sugar or brown sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp of your fave taco or chili seasoning
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper, or more if you like a spicy kick
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, or 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- Garnish: shredded cheese, diced jalapeno peppers, sliced green onion, sour cream, sriracha sauce, queso blanco cheese, cilantro or your favorites!
- Saute ground beef in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat until fully cooked.
- Drain and set aside.
- In the same pot, add 2 tbsp olive oil and all spices.
- Saute spices over medium heat for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, saute for 1 minute.
- Add onion and garlic to spice mixture and saute until onions are just translucent.
- Add ground beef, tomatoes, beans, soy sauce, bay leaf, sugar and V-8 juice. Add 1 cup of beef stock and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.
- Add more beef stock as needed until your chili is as thick as you like it.
- Simmer chili for 4 to 6 hours.
- Just before serving, add salt and pepper to taste. This also a great time to add more heat. Sriracha is a favorite in my house.
- Serve with your favorite garnish.
- Yes, nutmeg and soy sauce! Trust me, it works.
- Chili served over rice or fritos makes for an amazing meal.
- Slow cooking alters flavor as your food cooks so it's best to taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
- Sugar helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes but less is more, so a teaspoon is plenty.
- Spicy V-8 or other tomato juice helps boost flavor and heat.
- Don't be afraid to adjust ingredients to your own preferences! Consider this a foundation recipe and do your thang with flavors and heat. Absolutely make it your own!
- But, seriously, trust me on the soy sauce and nutmeg.