Snow Day Chili

The first winter snow hit NYC this weekend, and any thoughts of going out for brunch flew out of my head. When it’s snowy, I want pajamas and comfort food. I want something spicy, hearty, familiar, and easy to make.
I want chili.
This isn’t fancy vegetarian chili. This isn’t real-and-true Texan chili. This isn’t even good ole Skyline chili. This is ground beef, tomatoes, and a good hit of chili powder. If you like other stuff in there – corn, beans, or other ingredients – please feel free to add it. The important thing is to do what you like, how you like it. It’s a guilty pleasure, not a gourmet one.
Snow Day Chili

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 can pureed tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
4 Tbsp. no salt chili powder (I love Frontier blend, but you can make your own with dried chipotle chile powder, cumin, coriander, and just a dash of cayenne pepper)
healthy glug of Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup of vegetable oil.

 1) Heat the oil on medium heat in a large stockpot until it starts to shimmer. Then, add the onions and garlic and saute for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to turn translucent and the garlic becomes golden. If the garlic turns dark brown, remove it from the heat immediately – it is burned and can’t be salvaged. Just remove it from the pot, then return the pot to a lower heat.

 2) When the veggies are fragrant, add your chile powder.

 Your kitchen should immediately be filled with the most savory scent.
You may start to drool.

 3) Add the meat and turn the heat up to medium high. Let the meat brown for a few minutes before you turn it, because you don’t want to work the meat too much, or it will turn into hard, pebbly gravel.

 By letting the meat rest in between gently lifting and folding it, you will end up with soft, juicy hunks of meat.

 4) When the meat is thoroughly cooked  (about 15 minutes), use a ladle to remove most of the liquid from the pot.

 LOTS of this liquid is fat. Fat is great and all, but you don’t want a mouthful of the liquid stuff – that just tastes like a greasy film covering your mouth. So, use a separator to strain off the fat (pour off the light stuff on top, then pour the dark stuff back into the pot) OR just skim the fat off the top with a spoon.

 5) Add the Worcestershire sauce – quite a bit since there is no salt in this recipe.

 Take a little taste to see if you want more chile or spice, and and adjust seasonings accordingly.

 6) Add the tomatoes and/or sauce and break down the tomatoes with a spoon.

 7) Turn the heat up to medium high and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the meat goes from looking like this:

to this:

 You really want all the ingredients to break down and become one homogeneous mixture. Taste it for spices here. Feel free to add some salt, pepper, or any other seasonings you may desire. You can also add some tomato paste or masa (corn flour) to thicken the chili.

 8) Make sure you have as many fixins as possible. That’s the best part about chili – the customization. If you want to go all out, follow my lead and use:
tortilla chips
diced tomatoes
sharp cheddar cheese
serrano chiles
sour cream
corn bread
sourdough bread

 9) Serve.
 This is all about the beef. It’s as spicy or mild as you make it, with none of the sodium or grease overload of diners. There isn’t anything fancy or challenging to the palate. This is just beefy, tomatoey, cumin-y chili. It is as good in a bowl with  cornbread and cilantro as it is on a potato bun smothered with melted cheese as a sort of sloppy joe. It’s also great the next day wrapped in a tortilla and doused in hot sauce.

And it’s the one and only reason I really love snow days. 
The winner of the Green and Black’s Chocolate is (You may have to look very closely to see):
True Random Number Generator  

22Joanna! Congratulations, Joanna! I will contact you by email and send these chocolates out to you STAT!


  1. It could be the nicest day of the year and I'd rather stay home and have chili than go out for brunch! Curious, though, how many of you were there? Because that spread looks awesome.

  2. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Justin-there were only 8 of us, but yeah…we kinda went all out!

  3. Anonymous says:

    LOVE! Thanks for this 🙂 -Meg Carney

  4. You could have competed in NY Chilifest 2012! 😉


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