I love making chili. I love how easy it is and I love the mixture of flavors one gets in a good bite of chili. I like chili on it's own, with cornbread, with fritos, on a hot dog...any way I can get it, I love it. I have found however that the more I make my own chili and fall further and further in love with it, the harder it is to enjoy any chili that is not my own (what a great philosophy for a monogamous relationship too...yes Matt...I just compared our relationship to chili). Often, not all the time but often, when tasting other people's chili I find myself enjoying it, then thinking "Oh if they only added this" or "If only they used this instead of that". Eventually I will think myself out of enjoying their chili and dreaming about mine because I have slowly "morphed" their chili into everything it should be (in my mind- mine). I will concede that Texan chili purists will snub my chili because according to current chili standards, a Texas chili should not have beans in it. I think this is outrageous and rediculous. First off- beans are a wonderful addition to chili because of the nutritional value it adds. Second- you really expect me to believe that cowboys wouldn't enjoy a bowl full of chili with beans?!? Regardless, here is the chili as closely as I can describe it to you...
Start off with an idea of how much and what type of ground meat you are going to use. This batch is ground venison and ground buffalo (venison because it is free to us plus delicious and lean, buffalo because my mom bought it and it is delicious and lean). I personally do not like fatty ground meat in my chili, but to each their own. You need to know how much meat because there is a precise ratio that occurs with my chili recipe. Basically for veggies and canned tomatoes it is a one to one ratio and for beans it is a 1 to 1.5 ratio. Thus, for every pound of ground meat you want, use one bell pepper and one regular size onion, and one can of diced tomatoes. Then use 1.5 cans of beans. Yes I realize you could soak and cook your own beans, but my method is so easy! Also, if you are going to make chili then make a huge pot to munch on for days, with friends, then stick in the freezer. It freezes really well and it is wonderful to be able to come home to a huge bowl of chili on unexpected rainy or cold (HAHA) days.
So chop your bell peppers and onions and sautee in vegetable oil in a large stockpot. When tender add the ground meat, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and brown until done. I do not drain any fat at this point as there is usually very little, but if you used Ground Chuck or something fatty, you may wish to.
Rinse and drain your canned beans. I like to use a combo of dark red kidney beans, light red kidney beans, and pinto beans. I do usually pour one can in without draining to provide a little thickening, but most of them I drain and rinse. Stir it all around a bit. Add canned tomatoes and one large can of tomato sauce for several pounds of meat (I'm sorry this isn't more precise, but I don't use a lot of measurements). This is where the fun comes in.
Liberally season with salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder. Then add copious amounts of at least three different kinds of chili powder (we are talking about palmfulls here). You may think I am crazy for suggesting different kinds of chili powder, but it is a tip my dad gave me and I swear by it. Each brand of chili powder is unique in what kind they use, how long they smoke it, and what flavor profile it has. You will not get a depth of flavor without using different kinds of chili powder. If you don't believe me, next time you are at the store grab four or five different brands of chili powder and simply look at their color. Those different colors mean slightly different flavors which means tantalizing flavor for your otherwise drab chili. Also throw in a good amount of cumin just for extra smoky goodness...you will be ok if you only use one kind of cumin.
Now stir this up (I really recommend a good bamboo or wooden spoon for this...it adds so much to the authenticity of the dish) and walk away. For at least 30 minutes. Let it come up to a good boil. Now stir it and give it a taste. It probably needs more chili powder, a bit more cumin, and some garlic powder. Stir this in and walk away. Again, give it some time to work, you probably have a show to watch or laundry to fold anyways. Try again. You should tweak your flavors at least twice. Just remember that you can always add more seasoning and spice, but it is very hard to take away. But you probably need more seasoning than you think...
Once you are happy you can simmer until ready to serve. I highly recommend cornbread and a salad with ranch dressing on the first day, frito pie with red onions and cheddar cheese on the second, and chili dogs with Hebrew National all beef franks on the third! Enjoy