Nobody thinks they’re going to be the kid with the weird childhood stories, but then you grow up and realize all the ways your experience was a little outside the “normal” box. Chili, for me, is one of those things.
For as long as I can remember eating chili, I remember my Mom making herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the side as routinely as you would cornbread. I thought it was weird (as did my other three siblings) but she ate it and dipped it with such convincing enjoyment that I eventually caved and tried it. Admittedly, it’s weirdly good. My brain still can’t quite reconcile the two so I don’t make it routinely, but every now and then for reminiscence, I revisit the pairing.
If you’re adventurous enough to try it, I recommend a good old peanut butter like JIF or Peter Pan (something with a little sugar, that’s nice and creamy) and grape or raspberry jelly.
When it comes to chili, everyone has a different idea of what it’s supposed to taste like. Me? I like something simple and unassuming; no avant garde flavors. I want that cozy, down-home pot that is the perfect meld of rich, well-developed goodness.
A simple straightforward chili is a contender for ANY and ALL bases and toppings:
- Baked Potatoes
- French Fries
- Hot Dogs
- Sweet Potatoes
- PB & J (just like mom)
It’s delicious all by itself, but on the second night, when there isn’t as much to go around, it’s nice to have some ways to make it spread.
This chili is also a friend because it doesn’t require you adding a thousand things to your grocery list (herbs, peppers, blah blah blah). It’s still bringing that flavor, but mostly with dried herbs, spices, and pantry ingredients (let’s hear it for the spice hoarders―that’s me).
If for some serendipitous reason you have a mother who also eats PB & J with her chili, please comment, so I know you’re out there.
The Cozy Fall Chili Everyone Will Love
An all around good chili that goes with everything from rice, to cornbread, to hot dogs, to baked potatoes, or if you’re my mother, a PB & J.
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 lbs ground beef (80/20 is ideal)
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 15 oz can red kidney beans drained
- 1 15 oz can pinto beans drained
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dried mustard
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne (if your kids are sensitive to spicy, omit)
- 1 12oz bottle of beer*
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes *do not drain
- 3 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 2 Tbsp Molasses (I used black strap)
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
Heat oil in a soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add diced onion and saute until translucent. Add ground beef and 1 teaspoon of the salt, and brown well. Create a small space in the center of the pot and add garlic. Cook for one minute.
Add drained beans and cocoa, cumin, dried mustard, paprika, chili powder, coriander, oregano, cayenne, garlic powder, remaining 2 tsp of salt, diced tomatoes, beer, molasses and worcestershire.
Bring to a simmer. Put on the lid and simmer on low for 30 minutes (You can simmer longer than this, but 30 minutes is the minimum).
Taste and add additional salt if it doesn’t seem very flavorful. Salt makes food taste the way it’s supposed to!
*Any wheat, Belgium, pale ale, or lager will do, just avoid porters, stouts, IPAs, goses and fruit flavored beers
You can also substitute beef broth for the beer