Batter Licker

January 19, 2011

one-pot chili

I have been eating meatless meals all week, so it’s only appropriate that I can’t get chili out of my mind. My brain has an obnoxiously playful sense of humor when it comes to teasing my stomach and testing my willpower. And frankly, the chilly weather seems to be conspiring with my brain this time around because there’s nothing quite like a warm bowl of chili full of warming spices to combat a cold evening or refrigerated day at the office.

For me, there’s also no Christmas Eve dinner quite as satisfying as chili not just because of the usual late-December chill in the air, but also because serving chili on that particular night has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember.

However, chili isn’t just great for cold evenings and holiday eves. Chili is also the quintessential Super Bowl dish. And in my mind, the only redeeming thing about American football (yawn) is that the season ends in the Super Bowl, which gives me an excuse to make a giant pot of delicious chili and invite friends over for beverages. (Whose idea was it anyway to create a sport whose games last three hours but only have about 20 minutes of total in-motion play time? Preposterous! Soccer players run for 90 minutes straight!!)

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But even if you truly love football and would watch the game even without food or booze being served (crazy!), chili is worth making for the next big game. As a one-pot dish, this chili recipe leaves virtually no mess to clean up, is easily made in advance, and actually tastes even better after sitting for a day or two. In other words, you can make it in that pot, store it in the refrigerator in that pot, reheat it in that pot, serve it straight from that pot, and then let that pot soak until you feel like cleaning your singular dirty dish.

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Serve chili to your friends and family as a dip with some tortilla chips, in bowls with sliced French bread to sop up the sauce, in cups with spoons, in cup-shaped Tostitos Scoops chips, or however else you want. But don’t forget the beer because beer and chili were made for each other, and you wouldn’t want to break up soul mates, would you?

Makes 8 to 10 servings

If using dried beans, make sure to cook them before you start. If using canned beans, drain and rinse them well before using.

1 lb. green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. yellow onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1/2 c. parsley, finely chopped
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
2 lb. lean ground beef (can substitute with ground chicken or turkey)
6 oz. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. cumin
1/4 c. chili powder
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 c. cooked pinto beans
1 1/2 c. cooked kidney beans
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
42 oz. canned chopped tomatoes
1/4 c. dry red wine
1 lemon
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced (or 1 Tbsp. dried dill)
cayenne pepper to taste (I add 1 Tbsp.)

In large pot over medium heat, saute peppers in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add onions, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and parsley, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and sausage, and cook until completely browned, breaking meat up into bits as it cooks to create your preferred chili texture.

Add remaining ingredients (tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, Dijon, basil, oregano, pinto beans, kidney beans, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes, red wine, lemon, and dill), bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with cayenne pepper, and add more salt, pepper, and chili powder if desired.

Do ahead: chili is one of those dishes that tastes even better after sitting for a day or two, so it can be made in advance and kept in a refrigerated, airtight container up to 5 days or in a frozen airtight container up to 6 months.

Top with diced red onions, some Greek yogurt (or sour cream), and a sprinkling of grated sharp cheddar. Serve with a salad for some fresh relief from the heat (if you add cayenne), and a thick slice of French bread to sop up the deliciousness.

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