Good chili is hard to define. It is easier to say what it is not. It is not tomato soup with meat. It is not ground meat so fine that it resembles corn meal. It is thick (stand a spoon up thick). It is multi-textured. The sauce is smooth, with lumps of tomato, meat, and lots of tender whole beans. The meat is a seasoned flavor item. The aromas should fill a house. The flavors should build until you want more, but are too full too continue.
James Speed Hensinger
Makes 16 hearty servings. Leftovers are better than fresh, which is great. Freezes in portion size containers for months.
- 2 lb. ground round or sirloin
- 1 lb. bulk pork sausage
- 1 3 inch yellow onion peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon minced/mashed garlic
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Brown crumbled meat with garlic and onion in batches in a non-stick skillet at very high heat. Do not break up lumps unless they are larger than 1 inch in diameter. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. Do not scorch garlic. It is not necessary to cook the meat, only to brown it. Drain on paper towels in a metal colander in the sink.
Move cooked meat Into an eight quart pot and add:
- 3 28 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes crushed with your fingers. (Don't used diced canned tomatoes. They have a chemical added to them to prevent them from loosing their texture. They will never disintegrate in the pot.) Squeeze through fingers to breakup.
- 3 16 oz. cans dark red kidney beans.
- 1 ½ Tablespoons freshly toasted and ground whole cumin seed. (Use mortar & pestle or spice grinder.)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cloves
- 1-2 Tablespoons Chipotle powder, Hatch red chili powder, Habenero sauce, or Tabasco Sauce as needed. Under NO circumstances should prepared chile powder be used. Prepared chili powder is a blend with pre-mixed lame dried cumin, and little flavor.
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (crushed)
- ½ teaspoon ground dry sage
- ½ cup distilled vinegar
- ½ cup dry sherry
Simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, and add:
- Chipotle powder, Hatch red chili powder, Habenero sauce, or Tabasco Sauce as needed.
- 1 can Campbell's Condensed Black Bean Soup (undiluted). Since Campbell's has chosen to discontinue this item, I have found that a 16oz. can of refried black beans works well. Ducal brand is good. These added a sheen and thickener to the sauce that completely changes it away from a tomato soup consistancy.
- ½ cup sour cream.
Simmer 10 more minutes, and serve with lots of saltine crackers.
James Speed Hensinger