My favorite chili recipes have preparation methods and ingredients that would deeply offend many traditional cooks. Whenever I am at a chili cook-off, I meet two types of people. One will love what they have tasted and ask for the recipe. The other says something along the lines of “there is too much going on in there.”
The easiest way to win a chili cook-off is to have something different. Every time I enter a pot into one, I see 30 other brown soupy clones which are most likely recipes taken from the Internet. After the judges taste several similar bowls, they sample mine and it is an easy choice.
Let’s go through my most recent variation of chili. My first crime against the cooking world is I never measure ingredients. This may make it hard for someone to recreate. In truth I don’t know if I could completely recreate some recipes of my own. Just taste as you go and build something that you like.
In this recipe, I always start with an 80/20 mix of lean and fat ground beef. Today I am using 1.5 lbs. Another thing I do in this recipe is I will not drain all of the fat. I will explain why in a moment. The first step is to chop up a whole Vidalia sweet onion. Chop the pieces whatever size you like. I prefer about 1/8 inch in size. Do not use any oil. Let the beef provide that. The onion will be on the bottom of your skillet. Bring up to heat and throw the beef on top. This is the moment your first few ingredients start to bond.
Now let’s start adding spices. I love a sweet chili. Throw in the brown sugar. Make it as sweet as you want. Add garlic salt and crushed red pepper. Again, use your own taste buds and add as much as your mouth can handle. It is important to have the spices on the meat when it is raw so it will fuse more thoroughly. It was also get into the onions.
As the meat starts to brown, be sure to chop it up as finely as you can. If you leave larger chunks of beef, it will be harder for spices to penetrate through.
Once the meat is browned, strain out half of the grease and keep it aside. Too much grease will make people sick but just the right amount makes it all the better. The main reason to keep it as I mentioned earlier is all of the spices and flavors are in this glorious liquid. Throw in one can of chopped tomatoes and two cans of Rotel. The Rotel reminds us that this is still chili. If your mix is too thick at this point, add more Rotel, water, or the leftover grease.
Simmer chopped mango and pears to soften in a separate pot. Add them and your favorite bean to the mix. I chose chickpeas.
At this point, set it to low and let all the flavors absorb until you are ready to serve. I hope you enjoy this dish.
80/20 mix ground beef
1 large sweet Vidalia onion
1 can diced tomato
2 cans Rotel
1 can chickpeas
1 chopped mango
1 chopped pear
Crushed red pepper