Thick and Hearty Chili

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Although it’s been rather spring-like here lately (oddly enough, it doesn’t quite feel fall-like), the bare trees and leaves littering the grass had me in the mood for a warm bowl of chili. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with chili. I love, love, love to eat it. But I hate trying to find recipes that I like. I never seem to find anything that knocks my socks off, and after doing another round of searching I finally decided to go with my gut and created my own recipe based on what I know I like and don’t like. I suppose that technically this would be considered Chili con Carne with beans (although chili powder is used in place of actual chili peppers). I love beans in my chili, so that’s a staple, and I really like the texture to be thick and hearty. If a spoonful can sit on top of a piece of bread without running off, then it’s a winner. I think I finally put together a  recipe that incorporates all of my favorite aspects of chili; it has earned a permanent place in my recipe book, and I will certainly be making it again and again.

Like most soups and stews, chili tastes the best when it is cooked low and slow for a few hours, so the flavors really have an opportunity to meld together and intensify. One of the things that I have always had a problem with regarding chili was getting it to thicken up nicely, and I have finally found the solution. I remembered reading that cornmeal can be used as a thickening agent (after all, it does make a mean polenta!), so I added it to this chili and it made all the difference!

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Thick and Hearty Chili

Ingredients:

3 lbs. ground beef

1 large yellow onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

2 cups beef stock

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

3 Tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup cornmeal


Directions:

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic over medium heat. Once browned, remove any extra liquid in the pot and return the beef to the pot.


2. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, beans, seasonings and cornmeal, stirring well. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours.


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