When I think about fixing chili, I usually (thankfully) don’t remember the chili my dear departed parents used to serve when I was a child. Some of you had the pleasure of knowing my parents, but most of you did not have to dine (and I use the term very loosely) in their home. While their food was not burned or awful tasting, it certainly didn’t bear any resemblance to the food most of us enjoy in our homes today. Please allow to me to give you an example and thereby prove my point. Their “recipe” for chili consisted of one can chili (I think there was only one brand available when I was a child) and one can of water. Heat until warm (not even hot, mind you) and serve with saltine crackers. Yep – that was their idea of chili. Why the can of water you ask? Good question. It’s not like my parents couldn’t read. My dad had a masters in English and my mom wasn’t any dummy either. But for whatever reason, that can of water was added. (Perhaps they just assumed chili was just like any other canned soup and never bothered to read the label.) Regardless, it was pretty much unpalatable. After I grew up and started making chili for my own family, I taught my dad how to make chili from scratch. He never looked back.  So if you too need a good, solid recipe for chili, this is about as basic and easy as it gets. And if you are even remotely thinking about trying my parents “recipe” for chili – don’t! Believe me, there are only three people in this world that liked my parents chili, and then only if it was added to a prepared package of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. My three younger children thought that this was the best food in the world when they were little. They always loved when grandpa and grandma babysat them, because they were going to get to eat this yummy concoction. (And no, please don’t try my parent’s “recipe” for Macaroni and Cheese Chili either. There are just going to be times when you have to trust me, and this is one of them!)

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 T. dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 7 T. mild chili powder
  • 2 T. ground cumin
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • finely chopped red onion, garnish
  • grated sharp cheddar cheese, garnish
  • sour cream, garnish

Heat oil in a large, heavy, covered pot. Add ground beef and fry until the meat is very, very dark brown and sticking to the bottom of the pan. (It’s those lovely caramelized brown bits in the bottom of the pan that you really need to give your chili the deep rich flavor.) When the meat is good and brown add the chopped onions, garlic, and green pepper and cook uncovered until the onion is translucent and you have scraped all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, cloves, chili powder, cumin, pepper, salt to taste, and chili beans. Replace lid and continue simmering for an hour. Stir occasionally. Adjust seasoning and serve topped with red onion, cheese, and sour cream.