My father, in particular, takes chili very seriously. He asks the butcher to grind his own meat and he uses several varieties. He orders his spices in bulk and uses several different kinds of chili powder that most people probably never knew existed. I remember growing up and going to chili cook offs with him. Again, he took this very seriously. These days, he doesn't go to big competitions but he still competes in local competitions and although he tries to hide it, I know he is disappointed if he doesn't win. Like I said, the man takes his chili very seriously since he puts so much hard work and pride into every batch. And he has a right to, his chili is seriously good.
And he never ever ever puts beans in his chili. "Real chili doesn't have beans." That much I learned from my father.
But let me tell you what I learned from my mother. Beans are cheaper than meat and they make the chili go further when you are trying to feed a crowd. And Mom's chili uses more everyday ingredients (none of them having to be specially ordered) and also her chili isn't super hot like my father's. And whenever I make this chili, I get tons of compliments on it. My mom made a huge batch of this for a dozen of my college friends one time and they were in love. I think all the boys loved my mom even more after she made this chili for them. And last year, she won the church chili cook off! As you can tell, neither of my parents are too shabby.
I promise, one day, when I can master my father's recipe and do it justice, I will post it on this blog.
In the meantime, I am posting my mom's recipe (albeit slightly altered to be my own) with her secret ingredient. I have met only a few people who use this same ingredient and only a few people can recognize its taste when tasting this chili. It really melds the flavors together perfectly for a great chili. I hope you agree! (p.s. you can still omit the beans in this chili recipe if you want to be more like my father :)
Secret Ingredient Chili
The Apron Gal
2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic or 4 teaspoons garlic
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 tablespoons chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 jalapenos, halved (depending on your spiciness preference)
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1 Hershey's chocolate bar (aka the secret ingredient!)
Heat a skillet over medium high heat, add the ground meat, onions and garlic. Cook until meat is almost browned, then add seasonings, until mixed thoroughly.
Add browned meat to crock pot with diced tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste and halved jalapenos.
Cook on high heat for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours. (Honestly, it gets better with time and it's hard to ruin this chili. If it were to dry out at all, simply add some water and let it cook for a little while longer.)
Half way through cooking, or in the last hour, add the chocolate bar and stir, remove jalapeno chunks.
Top with cheese, onions and or crushed tortilla chips or Fritos.