Homemade Chili

Who doesn’t love those cook once for several meals recipes?  This is ingenuity at its best.  One recipe, 3 meals.  Did I mention that these were camping meals? Though, of course, they don’t have to be.

This chili recipe is one of those cook once for several meals, and it is an ideal time saver for camping.  When camping you don’t have to sacrifice a delicious meal because you have to cook over a fire or only have a 2 burner camping stove.  From my mother-in-law, Pat, an all-star camper, I’ve learned that all you need to do is a little bit of preparation.  The day before we headed out, I cooked up a batch of this chili.  While camping, it became the key ingredient for 3 dinners.  I kept it in a tight fitting Tupperware in our cooler.

First night: Classic chili with toppings: cheese, green onions, and tortilla chips for dipping

Second night: Chili Dogs.  Roast the hot dogs over the campfire until the casing has cracked and the juices leak out and sizzle.  Lightly toast the bun over the fire as well.  Top the hot dogs with chili beans, cheese, green onions et al.

Third night: Stuffed baked potatoes.  Cook potatoes by the campfire by wrapping them in 2-3 layers of aluminum foil.  They take between 30-45 minutes, and you have to remember to flip and move them around so they evenly cook.  (Warning some parts may burn, just cut those off)  When potatoes are fork tender, cut them in half.  Pile on the remaining chili and any other toppings of your choice.

I hope you’re going camping soon because we all need to get away for a few days and sit chatting around a campfire.

Printable Recipe: Homemade Chili

You’ll need one large pot so you can minimize clean up.

Start with browning 1 pound of ground beef.  Since we don’t eat ground beef very often, when we do, I like to buy 100% grass-fed beef.  The taste is much more flavorful and heartier.I love using this gadget, I call it my ground beef breaker-upper.

Also add 1 small diced onion.

Cook these over medium heat until just barely browned, 7-10 minutes.

Since grass fed beef generally has more fat content, I drain it by placing paper towels in a colander in order to soak up the excess fat.  If you’re using beef that has a 10% or less fat content or really like the fat, you can skip this step.Eewww, gross.  That’s why we’re throwing it out.

Using the same pot, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute some of the veggies that require more cooking time: red pepper and carrots were what I had in the fridge.  Cook these over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  Add 5 cloves of minced garlic.  It sounds like a lot, you can always use less.  In my house, we are flavor junkies, so we like lots of garlic.

Add the beef back to the pot.

Open a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes and dump it all into the pot.  I only had a can of whole tomatoes on hand, so I had to break them up with my fingers before adding them in.  Here’s hoping your pantry is more prepared than mine.

Here’s what we have so far.

The secret to good chili is spices.  My preferred ones are cumin for smokiness, chili powder to make it taste like chili, and dried oregano for earthiness.

You cannot make chili without spices.  If all you have on hand is chili powder, at least add that in.  If you don’t have anything, now is the time to go to the store and get some.  We cannot move forward in a chili recipe without spices.

Drain 1 14-ounce can of red kidney beans (pinto would be good too) and add it to the chili.Your chili will be thick.  Some people like it this way and others, like me, need more juices. I added 1 cup of water plus 1/2 of a 6-ounce can of tomato paste.  You can’t just add water to chili without bringing in some flavor.  A small can of tomato sauce would be a nice substitute.

Do some soul-searching and figure out how you like your chili.  Don’t take it personally if someone criticizes your chili and thinks it needs more or less liquid.  Chili is one of the most personal dishes one can make; be especially careful when serving Southwesterners; they are VERY opinionated about their chili and every Southwesterner I know likes to share his/her opinion whether you are listening or not.

If you’re trying to use up zucchini from you garden this is a good time to chop it up and add it in.

Simmer the chili for 20-30 minutes.  The flavor only gets better with each day which is why it’s perfect for taking on a camping trip.

Sorry no end photo- I was getting sleeping bags, tent, and other camping gear ready.


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