Sunday, November 23, 2008

Uncle Dave's Chili

I never had chili growing wasn't something my mother ever made. By the time I got to college, I'd had it a handful of times, and I was in love with it. A thick stew-like dish garnished with jalapenos, cheese, and sour cream...right up my alley. I went on a retreat my sophomore year, and we would spend the nights at one of my friend's houses. His mom worked full time, but she would make dinner and leave it in the kitchen for us before going to bed. What a saintly woman she was! She made chili for us, and it was the best I'd ever had. I made it my mission right then and there to find a good chili recipe.

This recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people, we can usually have 3 meals off one batch. You can cut it in half if you want a smaller batch. I don't like a lot of beans in my chili, so you can use 4 cans of beans if you want to--I only use 2. I can't make chili with a lot of heat (because of the kids) so if you want, add some hot sauce or whatever will give your chili some kick.

After I got married, I found out one of David's uncles is a pretty darn good cook. Uncle Dave (yes...seriously!) had a mean chili recipe that my MIL would make from time to time. I got the recipe from her, and stuck to it faithfully for years. Only in the last 2 years have I tweaked it to my liking. You know me...I'm a tweaker, and a firm believer that a little red wine in a dish never hurt anybody.

So here it is, Uncle Dave's Chili with my little twist :-).

Uncle Dave's Chili

2 pounds ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
4 cans (10 3/4 ounces) tomato soup (I use Campbell's "Healthy Request")
2 cans (16 ounces) light red kidney beans
4 tablespoons chili powder
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 cup red wine (to your taste)
Cheddar cheese, sour cream and jalapenos for garnish (if desired)

Open up your cans of beans, rinse well under cold running water, and drain. Set aside.

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, brown the beef and onions together until the meat is no longer pink, drain off fat.

I think the easiest way to do this is to drain the meat in a large, fine mesh colander. Here's mine in action. I drain it in the sink first, and then set the colander over a large bowl for about 10 minutes. You'll see a decent amount of fat in the bowl afterwards.

I decided to use my crock pot to simmer the chili this time. Pour the beans and tomato soup into the pot...

Add the meat mixture...

And give everything a good stir.

In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, flour, salt, cumin, garlic powder, and water. Add that to the pot (or crock pot) and stir again. I forgot to take a picture after this step, but it doesn't look any different than the picture above. It will look fairly thick, but resist the temptation to add more it simmers, it loosen up and become more soup-like.

Now, taste your chili. Do you want more heat, more cumin, more salt? Season to your liking...I'm no expert here. Add the red wine (and sneak a sip out of the bottle), give everything one last stir, put a lid on, and let the chili simmer for 45 minutes. Because I put mine in the crock pot, mine simmered for about 3 hours (I didn't start it until about 3:00PM)

Serve hot, and garnish with cheddar cheese, sour cream and some sliced jalapenos, if desired. I made some Cheesy Green Chile Cornbread to go with our chili, and yes...I'll post that recipe next!

God bless your table tonight!

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