I always make huge pots of chili when the weather starts to change. It is comforting to have a steaming bowl of spicy chili when the wind is blowing the leaves around and fall is in the cool air.
This recipe is an adaptation of my mom's chili, and honestly it is almost always different, but always always delicious. I have just recently started adding the bacon, which contributes a nice smoky flavor to the pot. Sometime I leave out the zucchini or even the diced tomatoes, sometimes I add mushrooms, I've even added broccoli before--it's all good! You can substitute different kinds of beans too, just make sure to use two or three different kinds.
You can make this ahead, just put the whole pot in the refrigerator for a day or two, or if you'd like to store it longer you can freeze it. Just make sure you let it cool to room temperature first. I recommend making this at least several hours before you plan to serve it, ideally a day ahead to let the flavors develop.
This recipe makes plenty of chili--some for eating and extra for freezing!
Serve with or without a dollop of sour cream, some crusty bread and or a green salad. It is equally delicious with a glass of red wine or a tall glass of milk. Or both.
Enjoy! Happy Fall!
Min's Rustic Chili
Serves A Lot
1 pound bacon, chopped
3 pounds ground beef
2 yellow onions, chopped
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, diced
3 15-ounce cans kidney beans
3 15-ounce cans pinto beans
1 30-ounce can chili beans
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 46-ounce can tomato juice
flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
basil, dried or roughly chopped fresh
grated cheddar cheese
flat leaf parsley
Put a couple splashes of olive oil in the largest saucepan you have. Heat on medium heat, and add bacon. Fry bacon until it is about halfway done, then add ground beef. Stir frequently until browned. While the meat is cooking, you can chop your onions, adding them to the pot and stirring as you go. Mince and add the garlic after that, continuing to stir. Dice and add the zucchini and/or any other vegetables. Generously salt the meat mixture.
Open all your cans, then drain each can (except the chili beans) briefly and add the beans and tomatoes (if using) to the pot. Stir, then add tomato juice. Generously add spices. Honestly, I just eye it and dump them in! I use chile powder from the Latin/Mexican section of the grocery store, almost 1/2 of a 1 1/16th ounce package. Lots of cumin, at least three tablespoons if you measure. A healthy amount of dried basil. Stir and taste as you go. If you are using fresh flat leaf parsley or fresh basil, add a good amount, so flecks of green are visible in the chili.
Allow the chili to simmer over very low heat for at least two hours or more. Stir, then taste and adjust spices if needed. Remember that the spices will take some time to develop their flavors, but it should smell good and taste good while it's simmering. Making this several hours ahead, overnight if possible, will result in the best flavor.
Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese and/or chopped parsley.
This chili freezes very well. Just cool to room temperature, transfer to plastic containers with lids or even large ziploc bags, seal and freeze. You should probably use it within 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight if you can, or toss the frozen chili in a pan, covered, over very low heat. Stir frequently until thawed, then increase heat until heated through.