Homemade Chili has always been one of my favorite meals, whether in a bowl with crushed crackers, served over corn chips as a Frito Pie, on hot dog’s with shredded cheese, served Cincinnati style over pasta, or even ladled over French fries. I guess the point being, it’s good just about any way you like it, and almost everybody has a favorite recipe, including myself that they feel is the “Best Chili”
How do you determine what the Best Chili is? Is it because it says “Blue Ribbon Winning” or “Championship”? Maybe, but I have done taste testing at Chili Cook-Offs and more times than not, I didn’t agree with the results. Are the Winners recipes good, you bet they are. Are they the Best, well, that’s a matter of opinion, because we all have our own taste and what we like. Now, with that being said, I’m sure the big time Chili Cook-Offs are very Selective of their Judges, unlike small contests where you may have your Friends, Coworkers, and maybe even your own Mother judging your Chili. So to answer my question “What is the Best Chili”, I guess it is what you personally like.
I am always interested in how others prepare food items, to get new ideas, and for continuous improvement to my own recipes, and have been in pursuit of what I consider the Best Chili, most of my adult life. I go to restaurants where they say the Chili is great, I’ve went to Cook-Offs and tasted their chili’s, I’ve made chili myself, every way Imaginable, with beef, pork, deer, buffalo, smoked meat, ground meat, and cubed meat. I’ve tried every recipe from National Championship recipes to simple recipes written on the back of a can of tomatoes. I have concocted my own recipes, tried recipes from others, but bottom line is, as they were ALL good chili’s, they still were not what I would call “The Best Chili”. Through all this experimentation I did come to one conclusion though, good Chili is easy to make, but Better Chili takes time and effort.
As I was about to reach the conclusion that maybe my expectations for a really great chili were too high, I was recently online and stumbled onto a Recipe titled “Best Ground Beef Chili”. I read it, and the first thing I noticed was, this was going to take a little effort, but as I read the instructions, and from what I had learned from my years of making Chili, it all made sense. So I decided I would give it a try to see how it compared? Low and behold, it turned out to be what I had been looking for to satisfy my judgmental taste of great chili. I am sharing that same recipe I found, but also warning, if you are looking for a chili you can throw together in 30 minutes, this recipe is not for you, but if you are looking for a great bowl of Chili, and willing to put in the effort, I highly recommend this recipe! You will also need to make sure that you follow the directions, as another thing I have learned about making good, or now Better Chili, is if you take shortcuts or make little changes, it won’t turn out the same. SO GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY, because I did.
Best Ground Beef Chili
Ingredients2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef 2 tablespoons plus 2 cups water Salt and pepper ¾teaspoon baking soda 6 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1-inch pieces 1ounce tortilla chips, crushed (¼ cup) 2 tablespoons ground cumin 1 tablespoon paprika 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1 tablespoon ground coriander 2 teaspoons dried oregano ½ teaspoon dried thyme 1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped fine 3 garlic cloves, minced 1—2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans (drained and rinsed) 2 teaspoons sugar 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
DirectionsAdjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Toss beef with 2 tablespoons water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and baking soda in bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place anchos in Dutch oven set over medium-high heat; toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, reducing heat if anchos begin to smoke. Transfer to food processor and let cool. Add tortilla chips, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, oregano, thyme, and 2 teaspoons pepper to food processor with anchos and process until finely ground, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl. Process tomatoes and their juice in now-empty work bowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Heat oil in now-empty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beef and cook, stirring with wooden spoon to break meat up into 1/4-inch pieces, until beef is browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Add ancho mixture and chipotle; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups water, beans and their liquid, sugar, and tomato puree. Bring to boil, scraping bottom of pot to loosen any browned bits. Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until meat is tender and chili is slightly thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove chili from oven and let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in any fat that has risen to top of chili, and then add vinegar and season with salt to taste. Serve (Chili can be made up to 3 days in advance.)