Good chili is the way to any man’s heart.
But it’s got to be good. I’m talking about an explosion of taste that is virtually savored after each bite. The kind of taste that lingers for a little while in the soul, like an exceptionally moving story or piece of music.
Am I being too dramatic?
Okay, but we can all agree that you know a good chili when you meet one. Some people like their chili bold and spicy. Some like them subtle and sweet. But no one likes a boring chili. It’s gotta have taste, baby! And it’s gotta have character.
I like to experiment in the kitchen, and chili provides a broad canvas to play with. Once you figure out a solid base to work with, you can really get creative with flavor.
At the heart of this recipe are three main ingredients. Lots of fresh veggies, dark red wine and chocolate. Sounds like date night, but when you combine these three ingredients they work together to create a rich, flavorful chili experience that will satisfy even the toughest critic.
Let’s get to it…
- 2lb ground beef
- 2 beef kielbasa sausage, diced
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 medium green bell peppers
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 cup fresh mushrooms
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 can green chilies
- 1 can navy beans
- 2 cans dark red kidney beans
- 1 can red beans
- 4 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes or rotel
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup cabernet wine
- 2tsp paprika
- 2tsp chipotle poweder
- 2tbs sea salt
- 2tbs minced garlic
- Ground pepper to taste
Brown your ground beef in an iron skillet. Dice up the kielbasa and add to the ground beef, stirring everything together. Let this cook for 5-6 minutes and then add the fresh sliced mushrooms and green chilies, mixing. After an additional 5 minutes remove from heat. Drain excess fluid and put the meat mixture into the bottom of a stock pot and set aside.
Dice up your onions, bell peppers and jalapeno and slice the cherry tomatoes in half. In the same iron skillet used to brown the meat, add the diced onions and peppers, stirring until soft. You can use some of the fluid from the meat or a little olive oil for flavor. Once the onions and peppers are softened, add the cherry tomatoes and mix everything together. Then remove from heat and add to the meat at the bottom of the stock pot.
Set the stock pot to medium heat. Add beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Add Worcestershire sauce, broth and wine and stir contents in pot well. Add cocoa power, stirring in until the color changes. Then add all other ingredients and let the chili come to a slow boil, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Let the chili remain on medium heat for 20 minutes. Then set heat to low and let simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours. Make sure you keep stirring every 20 minutes or so!
We like to serve with shredded cheese and fresh baked corn bread, and maybe a little bit of that wine if there’s any left.
There is a subtle heat after each bit, but not enough to scare away the heat intolerant (our kids ate every bite). And the flavor gets even better by the second day, which in my opinion is the final mark of a good chili. Next day’s lunch should even be better than the original serving. I think this one passes the test. But after you try it, let me know what you think.