When it’s cold outside, it doesn’t get much better than chili. Not only does it taste great and warm you from the inside out, but the leftovers get better and better with each passing day as the flavors slowly meld in the refrigerator. I often make a full recipe and we eat a little for dinner initially and the rest for lunch over the next few days. It beats a turkey sandwich any day!

I grew up eating my mom’s beef chili, which she made using the “Pedernales River Chili” recipe from the Austin Junior Forum’s Lone Star Legacy cookbook. She added pinto beans to her chili, which thinned out the meat a little bit, but I still came to equate chili with a thick, tomatoey, meaty stew, and anything less just isn’t the same.

That’s why I decided to give the Best Recipe cookbook’s meat chili a try. It has many of the same ingredients as my mom’s, but with a few more spices and a twist to the order in which things are cooked. What I love about this recipe is the bold flavor which is accomplished in part by cooking the onions, peppers, garlic and spices in oil before adding the meat or tomatoes. This seems to give the flavors of these ingredients a chance to intensify and blend before being watered down.

What’s sure is that this recipe has failed to disappoint me. I made it for a big dinner party earlier in the month and got lots of compliments. Then I made it for my family over Christmas holiday using ground venison and pinto beans substituted for the beef and kidney beans. The venison has a much different flavor than beef, but the chili was still really good. I HIGHLY recommend this recipe!

Beef Chili with Kidney Beans
from The New Best Recipe

They suggest serving the chili with condiments such as diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, sour cream and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. I never serve these sides, and instead find that cornbread alone is the best addition to chili. You may disagree though. The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or two in advance and reheat before serving. Leftovers can be frozen up to a month.

2 Tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
2 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
2 limes, cut into wedges

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and the cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add half the beef. Cook, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon, entil no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remainingbeef and cook, breaking up the chuks with the wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until the beef is tender and the chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Adjust the seasonings with additional salt to taste. Serve with the lime wedges and condiments (or cornbread!), if desired.