The older I get, the more I enjoy this sort of weather. Everything slows down and becomes quiet. You find yourself throwing all responsibility to the wind, nestling down in the most comfortable spot one can find, grabbing that warm, fuzzy blanket, a puppy or two, a good book, and just wasting the day away. Ahhhhhh...who doesn't love a snow day really??
However, I soon find my thoughts floating off into the kitchen, pondering what delectable delight I can come up with for the evening's meal. On a blustery and snowy day it is always a no brainer. Nothing warms the soul like a big pot of John's Lip Smacker Chili! I call it that because it was my husband, John, who taught me how to make it. I remember the first time He made this for me. I was blown away by how good it was. Chili was something that intimidated me as a new cook, but I was surprised at how easy it is to prepare. I have tweaked his original recipe a bit over the years, but I assure you it has only gotten better. The best part is you most likely have all of the ingredients in your pantry.
Here is a list of the ingredients you will need:
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. of ground beef (or your ground meat of choice)
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika (or 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika)
1/4 c. brown sugar
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups of chicken stock (or one bottle of your favorite dark beer)
15 oz. can of black beans
15 oz. can of kidney beans
Tools you will need:
A large Dutch oven (i.e. pot with a lid)
A wooden spoon
To begin, you will need to heat your Dutch oven over medium high heat and add oil. It is hot enough when the oil starts to dance and shimmer across your pot. You'll know what I am talking about when you see it. When your pot is hot, add your onions and peppers. Sauté until soft and translucent, then add your garlic. This is important... AS SOON AS YOU SMELL THE GARLIC ADD YOUR GROUND BEEF! When garlic burns, it becomes bitter and can affect the entire flavor of your dish.
When your meat is browned, and no pink remains, drain off any fat, and it is at this point that you will want to add your spices. Why? Well, because, man is not actually sure of how long those tubular soldiers of flavor sit on your favorite grocers shelves. Sometimes they need a little heat to get things going again. Hence, for optimum flavor, add spices now. Trust me. You won't regret it. :)
Now on to our liquids. Something wonderful, something you may not even realize, has been happening in your pot. You see all those little brown bits on the bottom there? That is not burnt bits. No, that is some SERIOUS flavor. What you need is a little liquid to lift it off the bottom of your pot and incorporate it into the flavor of your chili. Now you could use water, sure, but why? NO! Use every opportunity in cooking to add flavor! I have two suggestions for you at this stage. You could use chicken stock. However, I enjoy using a dark lager. (Now let me just throw out there that I am not a drinker. It's just that you cannot duplicate what the liquid amber brings to your pot. Try it, you might like it!) Once you have poured your poison of choice into the Dutch oven, use your wooden spoon to scrape all those brown bits off the bottom. Allow this to simmer and reduce, about 2-3 minutes. The alcohol burns off and your are left with something magical.
Next you will add your crushed tomatoes and brown sugar. Stir, taste, and add compliments! Compliments are what I call salt and pepper because if you don't add it to your cooking, you ain't gettin' no compliments! *lol*
You are then going to bring that to a simmer, cover it, and let it go for 20 minutes. All of the ingredients you placed in this pot will begin to come together and the end result us absolutely divine!
While things are simmering away you will need to open, drain, and rinse your beans. After 20 minutes add them to your chili, stir, bring to a simmer, cover, and let them go for another 10 minutes. I like doing this because it keeps your beans from getting all mushy. I really don't like mushy beans. (Yes, mushy is a highly technical culinary term.) However, there is no judgment here in Kitchen life, so if you are a lover of mushy beans feel free to add them with your tomatoes.
At the end of 10 minutes taste to see if you need to compliment yourself (both verbally and with spice), add any if needed, turn off the heat, and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. This gives everything time to sit, incubate a bit, and it is well worth it in the end!
And there you have it! John's Lip Smacker Chili! I have made this dozens of times and it is foolproof, fast, and as I said earlier, you have most of these ingredients on hand already! I would like to mention that this can be done in your Crock-Pot too. Just follow the instructions down to the point where you add the tomato sauce. Place in your slow cooker, add tomatoes and brown sugar, stir, and let it go on low for 6-8 hours. You may choose to add 2 more cups of stock or water for reduction purposes. 20-30 minutes before you eat, add the beans to let them heat through. It is that simple. Let me know if you try this recipe. I would love your feedback and pictures! Have a great snow day everyone!
Happy Reading, Happy Eating, and Happy Living,
The Kitchen Wife