PUBLISHER’S DESK: THESE CHILLY CHILI DAYS
Fall has always been my favorite of the four seasons. Crisp mornings, rain-soaked leaves and a time to slow down prompted by fewer daylight hours has great appeal to me. No, I don’t love that come Sunday, Nov. 5 it will get dark an hour earlier, but it’s a rhythm that brings with it some comfort and makes me feel like I felt when I was a kid.
Know what else I love about fall?
I made my first big batch of the season several weeks ago and it was gone in a few days. That will repeat itself every few weeks throughout the rest of the fall and winter months, and while I enjoy making a terrific white chicken chili using my mother-in-law’s recipe now and again, there’s no replacing straight-up, old-fashioned, don’t-get-to-fancy chili that tastes like chili.
I know a lot of people who just throw together staple ingredients and key spices and call it good — and it probably is good. But I’ve been using the same exact recipe for years without deviation and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mine is based on a recipe from Marnette D. Hofer that was published in the cookbook “Seasoned with Love” published by the Freeman Academy Auxiliary in 1996. I made it on a whim many years ago and fell in love with it right away. I always double it and, instead of a second pound of ground beef, I use a pound of sirloin steak instead.
The chili strikes the perfect balance of liquid and solids, has a great crunch thanks to the vegetables and the right amount of heat that is easily adjustable based on who you’re cooking for. The best part of it is, with every bite, you can’t help but think to yourself, “This is what chili is supposed to taste like.”
I know people like to get creative with their own versions of this well-loved favorite. Chili competitions sometimes offer a “most unique” category, which I have always looked at sideways. I get the idea behind it, but I could make a pot of chili that uses enchilada sauce as its base and shrimp instead of beef or chicken. That’s pretty unique, but even if that would taste OK, is it really chili?
There’s one other great thing about having chili in the house: chili cheese dogs. It’s not uncommon for us to rip open a couple packs of all-beef hot dogs on a Sunday afternoon, cook ’em to the edge of crispy and pop on a heaping scoop of leftover chili and shredded Dimock Colby cheese and pig out while watching football.
The fall season is the perfect time to find comfort in radiator heat, cozy clothes, seasonal decorations, cinnamon-scented candles, and great food cooked with great care. And when it comes to the latter during this time of the year, it doesn’t get any better than chili.
If you’re interested in trying out the recipe I use, here it is!
Bon appétit, my friends.
Traditional Chili (based on Marnette D. Hofer recipe found in the Freeman Academy Auxiliary’s 1996 cookbook, “Seasoned with Love.”
- 1 lb. hamburger and 1 lb. sirloin steak, browned and drained
- 1 c. onion, diced
- 1/2 c. green pepper, diced
- 1/2 c. celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 cans tomato soup (10.75 oz. each)
- 2 cans tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz. each)
- 1/2 c. ketchup
- 5 T. chili powder
- 2 T. brown sugar
- 1 T. lemon juice
- 2 T. Worcestershire
- 2 T. salt
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. dry or ground mustard
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- Pepper to taste
- 3 cans chili beans
Brown ground beef and steak; drain grease.
Add vegetables and dry ingredients and cook at a low heat to allow flavors to come together.
Add liquid ingredients and simmer for at least an hour.
Add the beans and cook for another 15 minutes.
Enjoy with or without your favorite toppings, like crackers, shredded cheese and sour cream, and I like to eat mine with a dark beer, like Guinness.