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September 27th,
written by Arthur

It’s fall.  You can feel it in the cool air.  See it the color and angle of shadows in the late afternoon.  Smell it.  It’s time for fall comfort food.  On weekend football days (college or pro) I love one pot meals that fill the house with great smells.   Meals I can cook as I can tend to other chores and watch NFL games or half watch college games.  And last weekend I was in the mood for chili.

This is one of those dishes created more from whim than recipe.  Do I want this one to be more meaty?  Heavy on the beans?  Loaded with tomatoes?  Spicy? There are so many variables to play with, but chili is forgiving. As long as the broad basics are there you’re likely to end-up with a satisfying dish.  The following is roughly what I did:

  • 2 medium onions (on the bigger side of medium)
  • 3 celery sticks (Now I can hear some of you say “I don’t like celery.”  Fair.  But included it anyway.  By the end of the dish you won’t know it’s there, but it’s inclusion adds critical flavors.)
  • Four jalapeños
  • 2 or 3 pounds of ground beef (just took a bit chuck out of a family sized pack)
  • A large can of tomato pure
  • A can of stewed tomatoes
  • A large can or two of whole pealed tomatoes.
  • A large can of dark kidney beans, drained
  • A can of white beans, drained  (To some this might be chili blasphemy, but I think adding this bean breaks-up the color leading to a more aesthetic outcome.)

Before doing anything else, I fire roasted the jalapeños by sticking each with a kebab skewer and roasting slowly over the stove’s gas burner until blackened. It may be my imagination, but I fee this process adds just a bit of smoky flavor.

An hour or so later I started cooking the chopped onions and celery. After the onions and celery start to get translucent, I put in the meat. Breaking the beef apart with a spoon as it browned, I added some chili powder and red pepper flakes.  Once the meat was browned, it was time for the canned ingredients.  As the mixture heated, I chopped the now cooled jalapeños (chopping while hot can be a bit painful) and added them to the mixture.  I covered the pot and brought to a simmer.

Then it’s time for football and an occasional stir.  Taste and season as needed.  Don’t worry about breaking down those whole tomatoes.  Over the next three and a half hours they’ll break apart with the just the occasional stirs.

With a little homemade corn bread, this was the perfect fall weather meal.


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