I think I’ve mentioned on here before that I love cooking a big ol’ pot of something on Sundays while Guitar Dude is at band practice. Yesterday, I gave him a choice between a pot of chicken ‘n dumplings or a pot of chili. He chose chili which was no surprise. He loves my chicken ‘n dumplings, but he has said more than once that one of the many reasons he knows we’ll be together forever is because we both have the same idea about how chili should taste.
Some folks have strange ideas about chili. Some don’t use beans. Whaaaaaat? Some people leave out the meat, which I guess is OK if you are a vegetarian, but I’m a staunch carnivore. My least favorite is watery chili. There is nothing more disappointing to me than being invited to someone’s house for chili only to get there and discover it is water-based. I guess I’m picky. Speaking of which, I also hate chunks of tomato. *gag*
Anyway, yesterday I tried something slightly different with my pot of chili and started it with beer braised onions. Oh yeah, that’s right. Mmm…. beer, my favorite.
Beer Braised Onions
2 medium sweet onions, diced
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10 ounces of Yuengling (or other medium-body beer)
Melt butter in the pot you will use for your chili. Place the diced sweet onions in the pot and cook just until tender. Once the onions are tender, sprinkle the salt and sugar over them, and then pour in the beer. Cook about 15 minutes or so, stirring every so often. You will know they are ready when all of the beer has been absorbed and your onions are a nice caramel color.
The Best Chili Ever
Beer Braised Onions
1 lb. ground round (85/15)
3 large cans crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
4 cans of beans (drained and well rinsed)
1 TBSP minced garlic
Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Black Pepper, and Chili Powder (all to taste)
Once the onions are finished throw in the pound of ground round and the minced garlic. Cook until the meat is well browned. Add in the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Rinse beans in colander and place in the pot. I use a mix of beans – for this recipe I used two cans of dark red kidney beans, one can of light red kidney beans, and one can of just regular ol’ red beans because that’s what I had available. You can use whatever suits your fancy.
Stir that all together and start adding your seasonings. I do it one round at a time. All told I use probably a 1/4 bottle of chili powder, but the rest I couldn’t even begin to guess at. Just add in it one round at a time, let it cook at least a half hour, give it a taste and see what else it needs. I wish I could be more technical than that with it, but I don’t measure… I just know when it is right. And when it is right, it is sooooo right.
I like to cook chili for at least 6 – 8 hours in order to give the flavor time to really develop, plus it reduces and gets all thick just the way I like it.
Serve with some freshly shredded cheddar cheese on top, and try to stop yourself from saying “Mmm….” every time you put a spoonful of goodness in your mouth.
What’s your idea of how chili should taste? Let’s hear from some readers!