Chili can be a very controversial dish. Some people wouldn’t dream of putting beans in it, where as others will omit the meat entirely and make it vegetarian. Some want it scorching hot from the peppers put in, others prefer it mild. There are contests all over the place to determine the “best” chili. I am not going to tell you this is the “definitive” chili recipe. I will tell you this is what Ma’am and I make when we make chili, give or take a few changes along the way.
She got this photocopied recipe back in the 1970’s. Supposedly it is the same recipe used at the famous Chasen’s Restaurant in Hollywood, CA. I don’t know if this is the actual recipe they used, but I know it is a good one with modifications.
First, swap the butter for olive or canola oil. Save the butter for baking when you can actually taste it. And use less oil. You need very little oil (1 to 2 tablespoons) to keep the meat from sticking initially when you are browning it.
I usually do not use a 6:1 ratio of meat to beans, more like 2:1 or 1:1. I make this as an “eating” chili, so I want the beans in it. If it were making it as a chili to put on top of things (fries, hot dogs, etc.), I’d use the reduced amount of beans or omit them. But, that’s how I like it, do what you and your family likes.
You are welcome to use canned beans, or a quick soaking method if you don’t think about it the night before. Cover the beans in water, bring to a boil, cook for 2 minutes then turn off the heat. Let them soak for 1-2 hours and then proceed with the recipe.
This recipe is very mild. Unless everyone likes it spicy, I’d recommend keeping it on the mild side and having a bottle of hot sauce handy for those that want to “kick it up a notch”.
As far as serving suggestions, well, I just can’t imagine eating this with anything other than cornbread. The cornbread recipe below can be made in a cake or pie pan or even muffin tins if you do not have a cast iron skillet. It’ll be good, just not have that thick brown crust on it that I grew up with. Weird, some people don’t like their cornbread that way, or they like it sweet, almost like a cake. To each his own.
Until next time, happy eating