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It was a long time ago, but yes, I did win first place in a Chili cook-off. It happened, and for a moment, something I made was considered to be best in the world. It’s a great feeling and something that I hold dear to my heart since at the time, I was basically at the beginning of my cooking career. That young, I honestly had no idea what I was really doing. I walked in and just signed up for the competition because I wasn’t doing anything that day. I still remember the words the Judge spoke before it started. As if no one else was there, he stood in the middle of the room, stared right at me, and he said: 

“…Make the best Chili in the world. Or I’ll eat your soul.” 

(it might have been “And I’ll eat the bowl” but I could be wrong.)

So I looked around, then back at him, and then I said: 

“…Okay.”.

And I made the first thing that came to my head, and it just so happened to be the best Chili in the world, it was the best Chili in the world. Considering how clueless I was with cooking, I knew putting stuff together was as easy as 1 and 1 making 2 and 2 and 1 making 3… It was destiny.

I just grabbed ingredients here, spices there, a dash of this, a splash of that,  I would taste it and then add and adjust with whatever I saw fit. I liked what I made but I didn’t think it was good enough for anyone else.

Needless to say, the Judge was stunned. A lip smack and an empty bowl, and the Judge was done. He asked me with the last spoonful in his mouth, “Be you Angel?”. And I said, “Nay. I am but a Chef.”

Unfortunately, because of my careless nature back then and not really keeping track of anything, I have no record of what I actually put in the pot. Which is terrible, especially now since I have this food blog and I could have shared the actual recipe with everyone so the story can ring true.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great, lick-your-bowl kinda Chili that you will want to make as often as you can. But I have to warn you….

This is not the greatest Chili in the world. No, this is just a tribute. I couldn’t remember the greatest Chili in the world. No, this is a tribute to the greatest Chili in the world.

The Greatest and Best Chili in the World ….Tribute

1 package ~ Bacon
2 pounds ~ Stew Meat
2 pounds ~ Ground Beef
2 each ~ Onions, medium, diced
1 each ~ Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 each, plus teaspoon of sauce ~ Chipolte Pepper in Adobo Sauce
2 tablespoons ~ Garlic, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons ~ Chili Powder

1 tablespoon ~ Cumin Powder
1 tablespoon ~ Dried Thyme
1 tablespoon ~ Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon ~ Red Pepper Flakes
2 each ~ 14 oz cans Low Sodium Beef Broth
2 each ~ 28 oz cans Tomato Puree
1 each ~ 4 oz can Tomato Paste
To Taste ~ Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, Cumin Powder

Notes:

  • By now you’ve probably noticed the lack of beans in my Chili. There’s very complicated mathematical and scientific equations leading to answers as to why there are no beans, but the short form is that I just don’t like them. Problem with that? You can begin filling out a complaint form by clicking on the “X” in the top right corner of the screen.
  • Guess what? All you’ll need is a nice big pot. Don’t even have to turn the oven on. I love me some one pot cooking, it’s cleanups BFF.
  • For 2 people, this is going to give you enough Chili for a few nights. And remember, it’s always better the day after making it.
  • I’ve happily used ground turkey instead of ground beef before.
  • If you’re wondering what in the blue hell a Chipolte Pepper in Adobo Sauce is, I don’t blame you. It comes in a can that looks exactly like this and you can find it in the ethnic aisle of your favorite supermarket most likely next to the canned jalapeños. It’s my secret ingredient (shhh, don’t tell anyone) and basically what’s going to kick up the heat in the Chili. Which is exactly why I tell you to only use one along with about a teaspoon of the adobo sauce. I buy the smallest can which contains about 5 or 6 peppers. What you do with the rest of the peppers is your business, but if you use more than one in the Chili, don’t blame me if your garbage chute catches fire.
  • I’ve made this Chili without the chipolte pepper, and while it did taste like something was missing for me, it didn’t take away from how good it still was. So if you can’t find it or just don’t want to deal with it, feel free to skip the ethnic aisle and the scary canned pepper in the weird sauce.
  • No, I still don’t like beans.

You know, I’m always a little sad the first few weeks of January. Holidays come and go so fast I hardly have time to savor them anymore. And as if that’s not enough, to throw salt in the wound, at some point I have to muster up the strength to take down all the Christmas decorations. Because I celebrate Three Kings Day (or Epiphany, January 6th), I get a couple of extra days to depress myself with a present-less tree and half-working yard decorations. But they have to come down eventually. Maybe next season I’ll start putting stuff out around September like the retail stores do.

But anyway, just because the merriness is over, doesn’t mean it’s automatically spring. If you live anywhere that is not Florida, the end of December brings a cold, bitter warning:

Winter is Coming

And if you’re smart, you’ll heed that warning. Because when you’re at home and you have below freezing temperatures knocking down your doors, you’re going to wish you had some of this stuff in your freezer:

  • First thing you’re going to want to do is chop up the onions, pepper, garlic, and the one lone chipolte pepper (a decent sized one, don’t be chicken). I don’t like the onions and peppers cut too small. Medium is good for me. You’re going to add all of that at the same time so if you want to put them in the same bowl, go nuts. Next, dice the bacon and check the stew meat to make sure there are no gigantic chunks in there. Try and have all the pieces of stew meat uniform, so if some pieces are bigger than others, cut them in half.

The way we’re going to have to do the meat is in stages. You can’t just throw it all in there and expect it to magically cook. There’s going to be a lot of adding and then draining and then removing and then adding. So have a big bowl ready to hold all the cooked meat in until we’re done.

  • Turn on the heat to your pot and when it’s hot, put the bacon inCook the bacon until it’s crispy, draining the drippings into a bowl as you need to. You want to save the bacon fat because 1) I always find it hard to throw away bacon fat, and mainly 2) Because you’re going to be using that to saute everything else. Once the bacon is done, remove it from the pot and set it aside. And now the obligatory picture of cooked bacon:

  • Next, add some of the bacon drippings and sear the stew meat. If you notice a lot of liquid in the pan, drain as much as you can in the sink. The meat isn’t going to brown with all that stuff in there. Once the stew meat is done, remove it from the pot and set it aside.
  • Now, add more of the bacon goodness, and cook the ground beef. Same thing with the liquid, just drain it. Once it’s done and you don’t see anymore red, remove it from the pot and set it aside. You should now have a huge bowl or plate filled with glorious meat.
If you notice not so much bacon as the picture above it, it’s because I may have had some. Quality Control. It’s all about quality control.
  • It’s all downhill from here. add a splash of bacon juice and saute the vegetables including the chipolte pepper. Something I like to do is add the chili and cumin powder, thyme, garlic and red pepper flakes to the vegetables as they’re cooking. This really brings out the flavors and helps to make a better base for the Chili.

  • The fun part! Once the vegetables are soft, add all of the meat back into the potAdd the 2 cans of beef broth and stir it around. You want to let it heat up, and once it boils, add the tomato puree and paste then stir it up again.

  • And the fun is over. Now you wait. Put the temperature down to a light simmer for a whole hour and a half! Check it out once in a while and stir it around. I leave mine uncovered, but if you find it splashing around everywhere just take a piece of aluminum foil and place it on top of the pot. Don’t crumple it around, just lay it on top.
  • After an hour and a half taste it. I’m telling you right now, without a doubt or hesitation, you’re going to have to put salt in it. No lie, I put more than a tablespoon in there sometimes. It depends on the beef stock and the tomatoes. but before you put the salt, crack some pepper in there and add about 2 teaspoons more of each the chili and cumin powdersAdd the salt by the teaspoon, stir it and then taste it. I have faith that you’ll be able to tell when you’ve seasoned it well enough. Once you’re done seasoning, put it back on the burner and simmer it for another hour and a half! If you’re keeping count at home that’s a total of 3 hours! Wow!!

Oh, relax, it’s only 3 hours. Some chili’s have you simmering it for upwards of 6 or 8 hours. So I don’t want to hear it.

Once the total of 3 hours is done, it’s ready to go! Bowl it up and go to town. Like I said though, a rule of thumb for most all soups but especially Chili… It’s always better the next day. After it’s sat there in the fridge and all the flavors get all happy-nice with each other, it’s freaking great. I love to enjoy a bowl with some shredded cheddar cheese and saltine crackers. Add whatever toppings you enjoy. Heck, you can even find a way to add beans in there, just don’t go asking me how to do it. And don’t bother telling me you added them either because I probably won’t like you afterwards. Matter of fact, you’re lucky I’m not deleting this entire post before it’s even published because of the possibility that you may use my recipe to harbor your beans. Yes, I’m serious.

Beans aside, this Chili is awesome and I hope you enjoy it. I’ve been making this recipe for quite a few years now and it is loved by all who try it. I won’t hesitate to say that it’s award worthy even. And that’s peculiar.

Why? Well, the peculiar thing is this my friends:

That Chili I made on that fateful day, it didn’t actually taste anything like this Chili!

**  This is just a tribute! You gotta believe me! And I wish you were there, it’s just a matter of opinion! ..Good God ..gotta love it!.. **

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