We had a most mild winter here in the desert. Since having moved here in 2004, we’ve gotten snow at least one day each winter (which is plenty thankyouverymuch), with the exception of this season. I’m really not complaining; cold is not my thing. In fact, there are only three things I like about winter: Christmas, cozying up by the fire and comfort food. And when it comes to comfort food, chili ranks right up there, don’t you think? I’m fairly certain that chili season has come and gone for us here in the desert, but any unfortunate souls who are still suffering through an extended winter might appreciate these five tips for chili that is insanely delicious.
1. Use a slow cooker. That is a no-brainer, right? Slowly simmering your chili all day will yield a much more flavorful result than if you make it stovetop in an hour.
2. Use homemade chicken stock. If you have yet to swap out the store bought stuff for homemade, you must remedy that this month! A batch of homemade chicken stock can last up to three months in the freezer and it’s a breeze to make. Believe me when I tell you that you will notice a huge difference in the depths of flavors of your soups, stews and risottos.
3. Use two kinds of meats. My personal preference is to use decased chicken sausage and ground turkey but if you prefer beef and pork, by all means, go for it!
4. Use dry beans. Canned beans are tempting for their convenience, but when it comes to chili, you really must use dry beans. Doing so is easy! Be sure to sort through your beans to check for stray pebbles. I spread my beans on a white plate and quickly scan for stray items and then rinse them in a colander. Toss them into the slow cooker with your other ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
5. Add a splash of alcohol and a pinch of allspice. Seriously. For alcohol, I usually opt for beer or tequila. Finish it off with a pinch of allspice for a chili that will almost assuredly guarantee you a blue ribbon.
I put all of those tips to task in my own very favorite chili recipe. This particular version leans toward the milder side, but it could easily be spiced up by leaving the seeds in the jalapeno and adding additional cayenne if you have a hankering for something hot and spicy.
- 1.5 lb. ground turkey
- 1 package sweet chicken sausage, decased
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 6 c. homemade chicken stock
- 12 oz. organic strained (or crushed) tomatoes
- splash of beer or tequila
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 2 c. assorted dry beans (I use a kidney, pinto and black beans), sorted and rinsed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder (more for heat, less for a more mild chili)
- 1 heaping tablespoon cumin
- 2 t. oregano
- 1 1/2 t. kosher salt
- 1/2 to 1 t. ground cayenne pepper (flavor to taste)
- a pinch up to 1/4 t. allspice
- Brown ground turkey and sausage in a skillet until the meat is no longer pink. Drain and discard fat.
- Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Continuously check liquids and add more if needed. During the last hour of cooking, you may want to add a sprinkle (no more than 1/4 cup) of cornmeal if you like a thicker chili.
- Top with sliced green onions, avocado, sour cream and/or shredded cheese. Enjoy!