Jess’s Easy Peasy No-Funky-Stuff Chili

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People are always asking me for my chili recipe. Wanna know my secret? I don’t have one. The chili I make has no recipe and turns out a little different everytime I make it. Just like my gravy, it is a new experience every time…and I like it that way.

When I’m sick, it is hotter (because I believe in the “burn it out” method particularly with sore throats). When I am well, it is less hot, but more garlicky. When the Army sees fit to send me to some God-forsaken place without an Aldi grocery store, my chili suffers until I make a stock-up trip to wherever does have an Aldi (because no other brand will do, seriously). When I am sans hubby, it includes diced green chiles and jalapenos and real tomatoes. But alas, my husband, like so many picky family members out there, doesn’t like tomatoes or chunks of anything in his chili.

I like a bit more flavor in my food. Under no circumstances; however, will you ever find peanut butter, coffee, mustard, ketchup, beer, or cinnamon in my chili. This is very basic, home-cook-style version of a quick chili to warm your family’s bellies on a cold winter’s night…no funky stuff allowed! (Of course if you are into the funky stuff, adjust and make it your own, that is what cooking is all about, but for the rest of us…we’ll keep it simple.)

If left to his own devices, the man will make “chili” with ground beef and ketchup. I kid you not…ketchup. So even my milder batches of chili that I make chunk-free just for him are sometimes a bit too spicy for him. He has taken to chugging large glasses of milk and toning it down with crackers, but at least he stopped the whining. 😉

So here it is, my slightly- wussified no-funky-stuff chili “recipe”. Perhaps you too have a family full of picky eaters who recoil at the idea of onions and veggies in their chili, but you are too proud to serve ketchup-y hamburger and call it chili. If that person is you, here is the solution.

Crumble 2 lbs ground beef into a skillet (or if you are lazy like me, into a big pot that you will later use to cook the chili in).
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Brown and season the ground beef. I like to season it with what I consider the basics + chili powder. That would be salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder. Do not skip seasoning the ground beef or you will have trouble getting depth of flavor in your chili.
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Once the hamburger is browned, drain in a colander and return to the pot. Add 1 small can of tomato sauce. This is how I get tomato flavor into it without using diced tomatoes which my husband would painfully pick out of every. single. bowl.
You may also add 3 cans of Dakota brand chili beans (from Aldi). Some people might say that is too many beans per ground beef…and they would be right, if we were putting other funky stuff in our chili, but we’re not, so go with it.
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Stir to combine and be sure your burner is turned to med-high heat. Add a can or so of water. It will not be a pretty color at this point.
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Now it is time to spice things up a bit! I have no measurements for the spices I use, but I will list them in the order of those I use the most of to those I use the least of in this recipe. The picture also shows them in this order to give you an idea of how much to try of each visually.

Chili Powder
Onion powder (remember you are entirely replacing onions with this)
Garlic powder (you can use fresh or minced if you’d like)
Salt
Pepper
Chile Pequin (also known as crushed red peppers)
Ground Cayenne

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Stir. Your chili should look like chili now, with a deep brick color.
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Once your chili is simmering, you can reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally, and continue to simmer for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on your patience level. I recommend tasting your chili at this point and adjusting your spices as needed to fit your tastes. The chili will begin to thicken up a bit with time till it looks more like this:
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Note: The pic above is after 15 minutes of simmering. Longer will truly thicken your chili as the liquid evaporates the longer it cooks.

Ladle into bowls and serve with crackers or cornbread, depending on your style. Or for my favorite application, layer chili in a bowl with shredded cheddar cheese, Fritos, and a dollop of sour cream and enjoy your homemade Frito Pie. Yum!
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