No two chilis taste alike. Everyone has a different take on it, and if you don’t believe me, just do a recipe search on Pinterest. This one I’m sharing today is my own.
Once the air cools here in the South, I start planning out my cold-weather meals. The last four months of the year are my favorites, and I aim to take full advantage of my dutch oven and crock pot.
That’s where my spicy chili comes in. We’ve had actual cold weather here lately (in October. Gasp.) Which means I’ve made this chili twice in about a week and a half.
Here’s how it goes:
Start off with an enameled cast iron dutch oven. This thing holds heat well and allows for an even browning on your meat.
Set your burner to medium and drizzle in some olive oil. Allow the pan to heat up before adding a pound of ground beef. If you don’t have a full pound, that’s fine. Or if you want to add more than a pound, that will work too. The great thing about chili is you can improvise. I use lean ground beef, but you might want more fat. Use whatever you’ve got on hand. Meat’s expensive, so feel free to use less and add an extra can of beans if that suits your budget better.
Plop the beef in and don’t move it. I know it’s tempting to break it up right now, but refrain. Let it hang out for a few minutes. Once you’ve achieved some brown goodness on the exterior, get your wooden spoon and chop it to your heart’s desire. I like some chunks, but you can’t go wrong here. When it’s mostly browned, add a small onion, chopped, and minced garlic. Let that sweat out a minute or two.
This next step is crucial. Measure out 3 tbsp of chili powder. Hot Mexican-style chili powder to be exact. Spoon the meat and onions into a separate dish. Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, depending on how much grease your beef let off. Now add the chili powder and two teaspoons of cumin to the dutch oven. Stir, stir, stir. Let those spices meld with the oil and bloom. Their flavors are going to intensify and make this chili chili. Keep stirring for about thirty seconds, and then you can add the meat mixture again. Stir some more before deglazing with a cup of beef broth.
After this, it’s a pretty simple open and dump method. Add a big can of tomato sauce, a can of Rotel (drained), a can of pinto beans (drained and rinsed), pickled jalapeno slices (chopped), salt, and pepper. The salt is to taste. Salt is the foundation of seasoning. If you think it needs more when the chili is finished, by all means, add more.
Mix this together, cover, and let it simmer on low for forty minutes or so. Or, if you’re a mama like me and evenings are the toughest part of the day, throw it all into a crock pot and let it do its thing for 3-4 hours on low. I do this a lot because late afternoons are my kids’ fussier times, and there’s something calming about knowing supper is coming along on its own.
You can serve this pretty much any way you like. I love shredding a block of Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese and spooning that on top with some Fritos.
And that’s that.
Spicy Chili by Cast Iron and Crayons
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 tbsp. Hot, Mexican-style chili powder
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1 clove garlic, minced, or 1 tsp. jarred minced garlic
- 1 c. beef broth
- 29 oz. can of tomato sauce
- 10 oz. can of Rotel, drained
- 15.5 oz. can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 3-6 pickled jalapeno slices, depending on level of spiciness desired
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
Toppings (optional): Monterey or pepper jack cheese, Fritos, sour cream, green onions
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Once hot, add ground beef and allow to brown. Break up with wooden spoon. Add onion and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Remove meat and onion mixture and set aside. Add chili powder and cumin and more olive oil if necessary to “wet” the spices. Stir for 30 seconds. Add the meat mixture and stir until combined with the spices. Deglaze with beef broth, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
Pour in tomato sauce, Rotel, beans, jalapenos, salt, and pepper. Stir. Cover and simmer on low heat for 40 minutes, or transfer to a crock pot and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Serve with desired toppings.
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