Spicy Chili

Happy President's Day! I'm still in Houston this morning but will be getting on a plane shortly to head back to the chilly northeast. Speaking of chilly, today, I'm sharing a chili recipe, which I feel like is also nicely in theme with my Texas trip, am I right?

Every February in Ithaca, there was a chili cook-off. This year's festival was actually this past weekend. What perfect timing! Anyway, it's an awesome event because you'd get to try a bunch of different chili recipes and enjoy a bit of live entertainment and just have a lot of fun with friends and strangers alike. Not all of the chili recipes suited my taste though. My perfect chili has a good balance of meat to vegetables, a bit of spice, and be thin enough to be enjoyed like a hearty stewy soup but thick enough to smother a bowl of noodles. This recipe addresses all of those things on my checklist.

Also, a funny little anecdote to accompany this post: my aunt and uncle came over just as I was finishing up this chili. My aunt asked me what I was making and I replied, "Chili." "Shilling?" "Chili." "Shilly?" "CH-ili." "Oh, chili? Like what they have at Wendy's?" Thanks keun-umma (Korean word for aunt - specifically the woman married to my dad's brother). By the way, this chili is better than Wendy's chili, okay?
1 lb. ground beef
3 strips bacon, chopped
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 habanero, seeded
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can Ro*tel tomatoes with chilies (or plain diced tomatoes)
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
15 oz. can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can of red beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons masa (or corn meal)
Start by dicing the onion and mincing the garlic.
Also, drain the beans and give them a good rinse. Canned beans are usually kind of slimy and salty so it's good to get rid of that nastiness.
Heat up a pot over medium heat and add in the bacon and cook until crisp. Add in the ground beef and use a spoon to break it up right into the rendered bacon fat. Cook until browned. Add in the onions, garlic, and the peppers. I left the habanero in large pieces so they could be fished out if the chili started to get too spicy. Add in the chili powder and cumin and tomato paste and stir to combine.
Add in the Ro*tel tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, water (I just poured the water right into the empty tomato can to rinse out the rest of the yummy tomato smudges still stuck to the sides). Pour in the beans and corn as well and then bring the chili to a boil.
This next step is a little weird but it will make the chili extra delicious and kind of special. Mix together the masa and 1/4 cup water and add it right into the chili. The corn meal will thicken the chili and add a little something.
Cook the chili for 15 to 20 minutes until it's thickened and yummy. Technically, the longer this cooks, the more developed the flavors become and the better it is but in a pinch, it can be eaten right away. If you have time, let it simmer slowly for a few hours. Oh, and FYI, it's a lot yummier the next day.

Ugh, the lighting in my kitchen at the moment that I took this photo was horrible. It makes the chili look pretty disgusting, but I promise you, it's really yummy!
Serve it up while it's still warm with a sprinkle of cheddar, a blob of sour cream, and a little cilantro.
Like I said, this chili has all of the components I look for in a good chili. Also, the longer it sits, the spicier it gets, which for me is a good thing. If you're not a fan of super spicy food, fish out the habanero bits.

And you know what else you can do with this chili? Chili cheese dogs! Just steam a bun, grill a hot dog, slap on some chili, pile on some cheese, and sprinkle on a few raw onion bits and you've got yourself a party.
Here's the recipe page:


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