Wendy’s Copycat Chili

Fall seems to have taken a permanent hold over the last few weeks and as a result, I’ve been craving a warm and hearty comfort meal full of flavor. What cures that craving better than a big bowl of chili that has slowly simmered for hours? Not much, right? I have only ever made one other version of chili, which is the one my mom made growing up. While it’s certainly a great meal, it’s not quite authentic – it doesn’t contain much in the way of seasonings and includes rice. So I went off in search of a more traditional chili recipe.

The web was full of recipes, so I finally settled on one (I love Wendy’s chili!) and then went ahead and tweaked it to suit my tastes. Since I don’t like very spicy foods, the amount of chili powder and cumin in this recipe probably seem low to the chili aficionados, but it’s just as easy to ramp them up, so adjust them to suit your own personal tastes. The amount that I include in the recipe is enough to taste the seasonings, but not enough to set your mouth tingling.

This is one of the best homemade bowls of chili I have ever had. The combination of flavors is fantastic, the beans make it a truly hearty meal, and the absolute key is the long slow simmer that allows all of the flavors to meld together and thicken into a fabulous chili with a smell so enticing that it would wake up the soundest of sleepers. I would suggest the 2-3 hours of uncovered simmer as a minimum – I actually simmered uncovered for 2 hours and then covered the pot and simmered for another 2 hours. It improved substantially in that time. I served chili with the traditional accompaniment – cornbread. I fell in love with this recipe last year and it’s probably the most authentic (save for a cast iron skillet) that I’ve tried yet. Enjoy!!

Wendy's Copycat Chili

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 to 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef
1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans (with liquid)
2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans (with liquid)
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water

Directions:

1. Brown ground beef in a large pot (I used my 7.25 qt Dutch oven) over medium heat.

2. Drain off the fat.

3. Combine the beef plus all the remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer over low heat.

4. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, for 2 to 3 hours.

(Adapted from Recipezaar)