Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Chili Secrets--Updated!

NOTE: This post has been updated with my recipe at the end of the post. Hope you like it. :)

Love, BJH


Whether you make it with or without beans, Texas- or Cincinnati-style, or somewhere in between...

Chili is a beautiful thing.

It is economical, hearty, and easy on cleanup. Plus, with all of the variations out there, you have a plethora of possible concoctions.

Now, I know there are some of you who are tempted to stop reading as soon as you see my ingredients because your chili doesn't have the same stuff. Yours may be meat-free, bean-free, veggie-free, tomato-free--or something else-free. And you may not want to change.

No problem.

What I'm going to share here is not just my chili recipe; I'm going to give you some tips to improve your chili recipe.

That's right. I've got a secret or two that just might make your chili taste even better.

So, are you ready?

Starring in our chili-making session today...

Ground beef, bell peppers in three colors, onion, garlic, red and white beans, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, ground coriander, ground cumin, ancho chili powder, and oregano. Not pictured? Olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Oh, and one more thing...

Chocolate for the cook. (It was rough Monday trying to adjust to Daylight Savings; I'm still in withdrawal from losing that hour of sleep.)

If you're going meat-free or like to use other meats, this recipe works well with the vegan soy crumbles or even...

Chicken sausage. Even Gadget Guy, with his love of BEEF, thought the chili was delicious with chicken sausage.

Heat your chili pot (I use a cast iron dutch oven) over medium heat for a few minutes...

And add one pound of ground beef. (Yep, the package in the ingredients photo was a two-pounder; but I don't have enough room in my freezer for THAT much chili. So, half goes in the pot to brown and the other half is used for something else.)

Now, here is one of my secrets for flavorful chili...SEASON every element of the chili.

Meaning, every time you add something to the chili pot and cook it, SEASON your pot of goodness.

My chili seasoning blend includes...

Chili powder, coriander, cumin, and oregano--about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. of each for 1 lb. of meat.

And salt-n-pepa, our favorite duo; I put in about 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper.

After you've seasoned the meat, let it brown...

And then remove both the meat and the rendered fat from the pot. We'll add some olive oil to cook our veggies.

Now, we're ready to cook our veggies. So into, the pot we add...

About 1-2 cloves of garlic...

About 1/2 of a large onion, diced...

And the equivalent of 1 large bell pepper diced.
(I've also used frozen bell pepper strips and chopped them.)

Doesn't it look pretty?

But remember, we're not done with the veggies yet...

After sauteing the veggies for a few minutes, remember to season them with our seasoning blend;

Chili powder, coriander, cumin, and oregano--about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. of each.

And our classic partners, salt-n-pepa; this time about 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

This is what it looks like after seasoning.

Now, you may think this is TOO MUCH seasoning. But think about it...have you ever made chili that smelled really good but then seemed to taste a bit, well, bland?

Seasoning at every step is the key to not repeating the blandness.

Return your meat to the pot and add your broth (I have used whatever I have in the house)...

And then add your SECRET INGREDIENTS.

You know you have them...but you can keep yours a secret. I'll share mine, though.

I have two. Ready?

Chipotles and sofrito.

Chipotle adobados, originally uploaded by arimou0

Chipotles are smoked and dried jalapenos that are reconstituted in a vinegary sauce called adobo.

Hot, originally uploaded by GirlsEyeView

You have to purchase them canned, and since we're only using 1-2 in our chili, I have separated the remaining chipotles into individual plastic bags and frozen them for later use. Chipoltes will give your chili a smoky heat. If you're on the cautious side, add 1/2 of a chipotle to your pot to start and go then from there.

Sofrito is a word used for many Spanish-influenced sauces. The one I make is Puerto Rican in origin and appears in a lot of Caribbean cooking. The basic recipe for the one I use is here at Once you make your own, you will never go back to buying the jarred stuff in the store.

I chop 1-2 chipotles and add them and their residual sauce to the pot of veggies, beef, and broth. I also add about 2-3 tablespoons of sofrito at the same time.

Now it's time for the final layer of ingredients.

One can of red beans ...

And a can of cannellini beans.

When I add black beans to the mix, I only add 1/2 to 2/3 of each can so I have the equivalent of 2 cans.

Now add a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes...

And some tomato puree. It thickens the chili nicely.

I have also used a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes instead of the two types of canned tomato products.

Now, guess what time it is?


Chili powder, coriander, cumin, and oregano--this time about 1/2 to 1 tsp of each.

And about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of salt and some pepper to taste. can always add MORE, but you can't take the extra OUT.

I let my chili cook for at least another 30 minutes...

If yours gets too thick, just add a little more broth or water to loosen it up and cook for another 5-7 minutes to bring the chili back up to temperature.


Okay, all of you chili purists...stop RIGHT THERE.


Monday night, I decided that my chili was missing something...some toppings.

In fact, it needed a dose of...dairy.

SIGH...much better.

Bon Appetit!--bjh

(I'll post my recipe details later. I've got to go shopping with Gadget Guy.)

I'm back! Here's the recipe...

Blue Jeans Hostess's Chili Recipe
(Serves 6-8 normal appetites; 3-4 "hungry man" appetites)

1 lb. ground meat or sausage (can also use vegan soy crumbles)
1 large bell pepper diced (or equivalent)
1/2 large onion, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic minced
2-4 cups of soup stock or broth (vegetable or chicken preferred)
1-2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons of sofrito
1 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 28-oz. can of tomato puree
2 15-oz. cans of pinto, red, white, or black beans (or the equivalent thereof)
3-4 tsps. of the following spices, separated into the measurements given in recipe:
  • chili powder
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • oregano
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Optional condiments: sour cream, shredded cheese, diced onion, diced jalapenos, crushed tortilla chips

Mandatory cook's snack: CHOCOLATE :)


If using ground meat, brown meat in cast iron dutch oven over medium heat. While meat is browning, season with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons each of chili powder, coriander, cumin, and oregano; then add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper before stirring meat to incorporate the seasoning. If using vegan soy crumbles, taste before seasoning and add as much of the chili spices as needed.

Once meat is browned, remove both the meat and rendered fat from the pot. Discard the grease and set the meat aside. Add enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pot and add the diced onion, diced bell pepper, and minced garlic. Season the vegetables with1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons each of chili powder, coriander, cumin, and oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute the vegetables at medium heat until tender and translucent but not too faded in color, about 6-8 minutes.

Add browned meat and enough stock or broth to almost cover the ingredients. Add chopped chipotles and sofrito mixture to chili mixture. Add the beans and diced tomatoes and stir to incorporate into chili. Add enough tomato puree to cover chili mixture; then season chili a third time with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chili powder, coriander, cumin, and oregano and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add pepper to taste.

Bring chili to a simmer and cook for another 20-30 minutes, until the chili is heated through and the last batch of seasonings has had a chance to "marry" with the rest of the ingredients.



Susan from The T-Cozy said...

You are the lucky winner of The T-Cozy's giveaway! Please let me know your mailing address so that I can send you your giveaway goodies.

Anonymous said...

Such pretty chili!

naturalhealthrep said...

Your chili saved my chili. I had a very basic, salt, pepper, chili powder, chili. So I went to google & searched for "whats missing in my chili beans?" & your site came up and i thought, well....I have "some" of those ingredients! :) I added the cumin, oregano, garlic powder, more chili powder & layered it when I added the beans & a few more times and it's goooood! I used ground turkey.
So, Thank You!
Elizabeth Farnsworth