Chili has long been a Texas staple, from chuckwagons on the prairie to tailgate parties at the stadium or arena. It’s an easy dish to prepare and perfect for casual gatherings when the temperature outside dips. As part of a spread for family and friends watching their favorite sports team or an evening nosh for two, I love this basic recipe for its simplicity.
Like most stew-type dishes, it’s very forgiving in the preparation. I like to simmer mine until the beef is very soft and pebble-like. For those who want more spice in their chili, turn up the heat by adding jalapenos, green chilies, or a dash or two of cayenne to the recipe. It goes perfectly with my simple cornbread recipe, included below.
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 6-oz can tomato paste
3 Tbsp. chili powder
½ cup green bell pepper, diced
2 pounds ground beef (I prefer 80/20, so it’s not overly lean)
3 14-oz cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 12-oz bottle of beer
2 14.5-oz cans beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish
Minced green onions for garnish
In a large 5-quart heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, occasionally stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add tomato pasted, chili powder, bell pepper, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring until the mixture has begun to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef, and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes with their juice and the beer. Bring to a boil and reduce to a rapid simmer, cooking for 45 minutes. Add water as needed to thin.
Add beans and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
Garnish with cheddar and green onions.
This old quick bread is a year-round favorite of southern cooks, who often serve it with chili and other stew or soup dishes. Baking the bread in a cast-iron skillet gives it that wonderful, lightly crunchy bottom and sides, perfect for crumbling. I brush it with melted butter as soon as it comes out of the oven. If you like spicy cornbread, add a tablespoon of minced jalapenos. Enjoy.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow or white cornmeal
2 to 4 Tbsp. sugar (per personal preference)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup oil for batter
1/8 cup oil for skillet
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and oil. Add to flour mixture and stir just until batter is smooth. Do not over-process the mixture.
In 9-inch cast-iron skillet, put the 1/8 cup of oil and place the skillet in the preheated oven.
When skillet is very hot but not smoking, remove from oven. Immediately pour batter into hot skillet and return it to the oven.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.