Chili is comfort food when it's Chilly outside!
It's been a bit colder and feeling more and more like autumn has hit. This morning in fact it's all of 48F (4C), which to me feels nice and nippy out! Crisp, cool air the last few days has made me want some comfort food. Not just any kind of comfort food but something that is still healthy and tasty and warms you right up.
Chili is that kind of food for me and has been ever since I was little, thanks to my mother who would make up a huge pot of it and we'd be able to have it for about a week (in all of it's various ways). I don't make mine exactly like hers, but I think I use the same base as she does(as to many others) with beans, onions, salt, pepper, garlic, etc.
Black beans are what I tend to use for my chili (not dried but if I were to make more I would use dried because of it being more for the money and all that), about 2-3 cans. One onion and 4 cloves of garlic need to be chopped up and added to a med-low heated big soup pan with olive oil on the bottom. After the garlic and onion softens just a bit add in a package of lean ground beef (I used extra lean)and break it up in the pan and allow it to cook up a bit.
While this is cooking add in a palm full of paprika, a palm full of chili powder, one tablespoon of cumin, a few drops of liquid smoke(remember a little goes a long way), and salt & pepper to taste. Mix it in with the meat well and continue to let this cook up. If you have peppers you'd like to add in chop them up and add them in (I used a red sweet chili pepper that tasted just like a bell pepper. Remember if you use hot peppers, save yourself the pain and use gloves while handling them. If you don't believe it hurts, check out this post.)
At this point I add in the black beans, after draining and rinsing them, to the pan. Before I add in the water I do something a little different. I grab the coffee pot and see if there is any left in it. If there is I add the little bit to the chili. I know it seems weird, and I actually don't notice a big change in taste, but every time I don't do it the chili doesn't taste right and every time I do do it it tastes so much better.
Let this simmer for about 2-3 more minutes then add in about 4 cups of water, just enough to make it like a soupy stew but not enough to make it soup. The water will cook down and turn the chili into more of a stew like consistency (which is what I like).
As it's cooking (at least 1 hour, but can be in there on a low heat for a few hours) taste it and add in paprika, chili powder, and salt & pepper as needed (sometimes you don't get enough, just be careful and don't over salt it :)).
When it's done or you can't wait any longer, get some in a bowl and top with your favorite chili toppings or leave it plain. I added chopped cherry tomatoes, 0% plain yogurt(instead of sour cream), and shredded cheese to mine and would have added cilantro if I had any on top.
My version here isn't very spicy(as in heat) but can easily be kicked up a few notches by adding in hot peppers, cayenne pepper, chipotle chili powder, etc. The hubby and myself added in Tabasco sauce, the little one on the other hand isn't very fond of chili yet so I decided he could have left overs from the previous nights dinner instead (pork chop, rice, salad).
Chili on a chilly day is pure comfort food, easy, and healthy too!
**Edit I don't know how I could possibly forget to add this but I put tomato sauce/large can of crushed tomatoes before adding in the water**