About this time every year, without fail, you can find a 24-ounce can of Italian diced tomatoes, kidney beans and ground beef in my shopping cart. When the weather begins to welcome fall and football season, my mouth starts watering for a big pot of chili, but not just any ol’ chili. Smoky and slightly sweet, my award-winning recipe is developed over a few hours, simmering gently on the stovetop and filling my home with the comforting aroma of bacon and onion. While it’s simmering, I usually whip up a batch of jalapeno cornbread, and then the fall season can officially begin.
Chili is one of those one-pot meals that is perfect for
serving a crowd and building a party around. For many of you tailgaters, it’s a
go-to Saturday dish that you love adding to grilled hotdogs and nachos. Like
barbecue, pimento cheese and chicken salad in the South, everyone seems to have
an opinion about what makes the best kind. Entire cook-off competitions and
festivals are built around this beef and bean phenomenon. With common,
affordable ingredients, it’s an approachable, non-pretentious dish that amateur
cooks and novices alike take pleasure in preparing.
To welcome the changing of the seasons, I’m planning a fall party in October where chili is the main event. I’ll invite a few good friends over to join me around a fire pit in the backyard. Alongside the chili, I’ll serve an array of scrumptious toppings: shredded cheddar, diced scallions, sour cream and oyster crackers. The golden brown cornbread will be cooked and served in a cast iron skillet. Dessert will reflect the changing of the seasons, too, but I’ll keep it simple and Some Kinda Good with a pumpkin sheet cake or apple-spice cupcakes for a crowd. Clean up will be easy, and everyone will leave happy and well fed. Good food and good company, that’s what it’s all about!
Today I’m sharing a chili recipe that I’ve enjoyed many times and from which I’ve developed my own. It is a fantastic take on chili from Food Network’s Pat Neely. It’s Some Kinda Good every time; and as my Daddy would say, “That chili don’t need nothin’ but eatin.’” Happy fall, y’all!
Pat Neely’s Famous Beef and Pork ChiliServes 4
6 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 cup beer (recommended: Budweiser)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (24-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (24-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
Lime wedges, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish
Shredded Cheddar, for garnish
Sliced scallions, for garnish
In a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until lightly crisp, stirring occasionally. Once the bacon is browned, add the garlic, onions, bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chili powder, oregano, and smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until vegetables are tender and seasonings are aromatic. Add the beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Once beef is broken up and beginning to brown, add the pork. Break up with wooden spoon like the beef, and brown, until no longer pink, roughly 4 minutes. Stir in the beer and beans. Toss together, then add the crushed and diced tomatoes. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Transfer the chili to serving bowls and garnish with lime wedges, sour cream, shredded cheese and sliced scallions.