It seems fitting to me that chilli should be one of the first recipes I share on this blog. It was the first recipe my mother made sure I knew how to cook before leaving for university, and it tends to be one of the first I share with friends who are also learning to cook. It’s a great dish to make in cold weather, but it satisfies year-round. For a cook on a budget–whether student, parent, or wisely penny-cautious–chilli is easy on the wallet as well as easy to make. It has endless variations, so it’s important to consider what works best for your tastebuds, but this is my go-to recipe when I need something warm in my belly and an easy lunch in the fridge. For those of you who are vegetarian or health-conscious, this chilli recipe has complementary proteins (grains and legumes) as well as meat. Serve with rice or cous cous for extra complementary protein building.
Joni’s Go-To Chilli
Makes: One big pot of chilli
Cooking time: 20 minutes hands-on, 40 minutes until serving
- 500 g lean ground beef or ground round (500 g extra-firm tofu chopped/mashed into small pieces works too)
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 small can tomato paste (100 g)
- 1 can each of: red kidney beans, black beans, chick peas (garbanzo beans), sweet corn kernels, any other beans or grains that catch your fancy
- spices: basil, oregano, parsley, chilli powder / paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, sugar
- extras: red wine, balsamic vinegar
Chop onion and garlic, saute with small amount of oil until translucent in large pot. * Reduce heat to medium-low, add large can of diced tomatoes and small can of tomato paste. Drain and rinse your beans and corn, add to onions and tomatoes. Add approximately 1 tbsp each of your basil, oregano, parsley, chilli powder, and sugar. (Sugar helps to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.) Add about 1 tsp of your cayenne pepper, and a couple pinches each of the salt and pepper. If you like spicy food, add in 1/4 tsp chilli pepper flakes. I generally add a dash or two of red wine and balsamic vinegar (no more than 1-2 tbsp, though).
* If you’re using tofu, add it in with the onions and saute it gently before adding the other ingredients.
With the tomato and bean mixture lightly simmering (keep the lid on to reduce splattering), cook your meat in a separate frying pan until you can no longer see any pink. If your ground beef is frozen, no worries, just defrost it a bit beforehand and cook it up like that. Frozen meat can sometimes work better, as you’ll get slightly larger chunks of ground beef instead of smaller crumbles. Once cooked, drain off excess fat and add it into the tomato and bean mixture and stir well.
Allow your chilli to simmer on low heat for at least 20 minutes before serving. This helps the flavours to blend and develop. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, grated cheese, and either on its own or with rice, cous cous, corn bread, or whatever catches your fancy. We once ate it on lettuce leaves wrap-style, and it was delicious! Enjoy!
P.S. I highly recommend my mom’s recipe for cornbread to accompany this chili!