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Chili con Carne
January 25, 2012
By Jennifer Chandler

A classic meat-and-bean chili can be topped off with a variety of garnishes — including cheese, sour cream and jalapeños — according to taste.

JENNIFER CHANDLER, SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

A classic meat-and-bean chili can be topped off with a variety of garnishes — including cheese, sour cream and jalapeños — according to taste.

A simmering pot of chili will warm up any occasion.

This Southwestern favorite is ideal for a family supper or stress-free entertaining.

Simply set out colorful bowls, and encourage diners to serve themselves straight from the pot and then garnish their chili with their favorite toppings from your "chili bar." Sour cream, fresh cilantro, jalapeños, minced onion, shredded cheese, diced mild green chilies and hot sauce all make great garnishes to any bowl of chili. Everyone at your table will enjoy concocting their own signature dish.

This version is a classic meat-and-bean chili. The chili powder married with such spices as cumin and oregano give it a wonderful depth of flavor. If you prefer a milder chili, you can control the heat by adding less of (or even omitting) the cayenne. Also, if you are not a fan of beans, omit them.

As a busy cook, chili is one of my go-to winter recipes. This recipe can be on the table in less than 45 minutes. It can also be made ahead and freezes well. I always make a double batch so I can have some in my freezer for nights when I don't have time to cook.

Jennifer Chandler is the author of "Simply Salads" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99) and "Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99). For more recipes and dinner time solutions, visit cookwithjennifer.com.

Chili

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

11/2 lbs. ground beef

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)

1/2 cup seeded and finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 dash paprika

1 bay leaf

1 can (14.5-oz.) whole tomatoes with juice

3 tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. granulated sugar

2 cups water

1 can (15-oz.) of red kidney beans

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, paprika and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes.

Add the whole tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the tomato paste, sugar and water. Add the kidney beans. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Discard the bay leaf. Serve hot.

Serves 6.


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