A Super Bowl Chili Recipe

What a weird Super Bowl LIV. No parties, no going to bars, heck there will barely be anyone in the stadium itself.

So what does that leave us to do on Super Bowl Sunday? Well, cook of course.

I’ve been dinking around with my own variation of chili recipes for a while now. So since I already have a pot on the stove and no place to go right now, I’ll spend some time sharing the recipe with you.

First things first… When I say I have been dinking around with recipes, that really means, “I start with a general idea and then throw a whole bunch of stuff in and then can’t remember what I did.”

The General Idea 
I like using two types of meat. Usually, I’ll season a Chuck Roast or something similar the night before and then brown it in the morning. (You know it’s properly browned when you set off the smoke alarm in the house and hear sounds of exasperation coming from your spouse as they open all the windows on a 40-degree day and have to wave towels at the alarm.) But I also add ground beef to fill out the profile. (We have also used ground turkey meat before and no one knew the difference if you want to go healthier.)

But before the meat goes in, I like to chop up an onion and let it brown at the bottom of the chili pot with a little olive oil, some garlic, and a chopped red pepper. I don’t know why I do this. It probably makes no difference taste-wise, but it serves the purpose of formally announcing the official start of the cooking process. We don’t have a royal trumpet to blow which would also serve the same purpose, and be more fun.

Once the big slab of meat has been browned it can be chopped up into bite-sized cubes, and added to the pot with the simmering onion, garlic, and pepper mixture. Then the ground beef goes in. Followed by some beef broth, one can each of tomato paste, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes.

Now, this part changes around, and I know it’s not true Texas chili anymore when I do this, but I add a can of black beans. You can also use the bag of black beans which will keep a better consistency. I just like to have some fiber in there. And this next part is total chili heresy so I will deny it if anyone ever repeats it, but I sometimes include just enough red lentils to add depth and texture without anyone knowing they are eating lentils. The addition of lentils also makes the chili officially “healthy” without ruining the flavor. It might even qualify as being organic and vegan with this addition. I have to check the rules on that.

Then come the spices. And I would be lying if I could tell you what the exact mixture is. I have no idea the amounts or ratios of anything that goes in the spice mix. I can tell you that it features some combination of these: Salt (a smoky salt like Applewood is nice), black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, regular chili powder, anejo chili powder, chipotle chili powder, fiesta chili powder, sweet smoked paprika, a dash of 50k cayenne powder, a cumin (up to you on that one), some herbs (usually oregano, basil, thyme), and then the secret weapons: chili cocoa powder and cinnamon. If I’m feeling feisty, I’ll also chop up a habenero and jalepeno pepper in very large chunks so that it can cook in the pot but is also big enough so that if it lands in your bowl you won’t accidentally eat it. 

Then the lid goes on the pot and it all gets to simmer for as long as you want it to, somewhere between 3 and 6 hours. Taste throughout the day, and use any spice in your pantry to make alterations through the process.

Sometimes it needs more tomato sauce or paste to thicken it up, sometimes more broth or diced tomatoes to thin it out, sometimes more spice to fire it up. And if you realize you have made something that will light everyone on fire, add some brown sugar. That will mellow it out and no, it won’t taste like candy at all.

That’s it! Super simple. And because everything is generally in one pot, it doesn’t cause any mess at all! The kitchen is always as clean as when I started. Every time. At least that’s what I think. My wife may have a differing opinion.

Let me know if you have any chili recipes of your own. Happy Super Bowl.