Fall is my absolute favorite season, without a doubt, even in Southern California, the land of unceasing sunshine. There's a bit of a chill in the air, which means I get to bust out my cute sweaters, Pumpkin Spice Lattes go back on the menu at Starbucks, and our Saturdays and Sundays are filled with lots and lots of football, my favorite sport to watch (though I don't get to watch my Redskins play very often, thanks to Time Warner). A crucial element of a perfect fall Sunday? Great chili. A few years ago, I was gifted with an absolutely fantastic recipe from a friend's father (thanks, Mr. Muller!). And while the original recipe is to-die-for, I made a few small tweaks based on this apparently award-winning recipe, which brings even more flavor (and beer!) to the party. It's a lot of ingredients and a ton of work, but the result is a huge pot of some of the best chili you'll ever eat.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bulb of garlic, chopped
- 3 large Vidalia onions, chopped
- 3 large red bell peppers, chopped
- 3 large green bell peppers, chopped
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1lb ground turkey
- 1lb hot Italian sausage
- 3 28-oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes with basil, drained
- 1 can beer (12 oz.)
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 3 Tablespoons chili powder
- 2 Tablespoons instant beef bouillon
- 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons oregano leaves
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tsp dried sweet basil
- 15 jalapeño peppers
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 teaspoon cornmeal
- 2 teaspoon flour
- 2 teaspoon warm water
- Green onions, chopped (optional)
- Sharp cheddar, shredded (optional)
- Sour cream (optional)
First, I prepped all the veggies - make sure you budget some time for this, as chopping 3 onions, 6 bell peppers, 15 jalapeños, and a whole bulb of garlic can eat up a significant chunk of your afternoon/evening. I heated the olive oil in a very large pot over medium low heat, then added the garlic, onions, and green and red bell peppers, and cooked until vegetables began to soften (about 12-15 minutes).
While vegetables were simmering, I added the beef, turkey and sausage into a large frying pan and cooked it all over medium heat until no pink showed. While cooking, I added a liberal amount of salt, black pepper and about a tbsp of the chili powder to the meat and broke up any clumps with my spatula. I drained the oil from the meat and added it to the pot with the vegetables.
I added the cans of tomatoes, using the spatula to break up the chunks, then poured in the beer and added all the spices and stirred well. I raised the heat to medium to bring the chili to a nice, healthy simmer.
I added about a third of the jalapeños to the pot. I threw the rest of the jalapeños in a small frying pan with a little olive oil and sauteed over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until just starting to brown, then added them to the big pot as well.
I lowered the heat and simmered the chili, covered, for at least 3 hours, stirring often, scraping bottom of pot to prevent burning. About an hour in, I tasted the chili and and added a little more salt and pepper, maybe a tsp of each. About twenty minutes before the end of the cooking time, I mixed together the cornmeal, flour and warm water in a small bowl until a paste formed. I stirred this into the pot to thicken the chili.
Once the chili had reached a perfect thickness, I spooned it into bowls and served it with green onions, cheddar, sour cream, and a couple of corn bread muffins. This is, hands down, the greatest chili I've ever had - meaty, with complex flavors and the perfect level of heat from the jalapeños. And it's even better when you reheat it the next day. It takes some work and patience, but once you're done, it's time to sit down with a bowl of this, a nice craft brew and the game on, and enjoy the beauty of fall.