The very minute i see trees changing and feel the cool breeze blowing in Fall I start craving warm, earthy, hearty things that carry you away to a place where bone chilling cold winds with razor sharp precision are somehow ok. Chili is one of those things that I go to for Fall and winter, among other things like chicken and noodles. I am promising myself that there will be a chicken and noodle post this year...guess I better get cracking since I'm posting once a month apparently. Sorry friends, it's all I can do.
I discovered this recipe for chili when Kendra and I were married, in a cookbook. I have altered it over the years to be what we now eat, and I have to say it's one of my favorite chili dishes. You know when it comes to chili there's not a lot of fuss that I like. I don't really care for huge chunks of meat, peppers, tomatoes, anything for that matter, floating around because that's just stew to me. To me, chili is, thick, beefy, deeply red, has some beans and is full of flavor. I think chili is best served the next day, or at least made in the morning and eaten that night. There is just something about the flavor of a chili that has been given time to completely allow all of the ingredients and spices to become one.
I usually eat my chili three ways. First, straight out of the pot, covered with cheese and accompanied by cornbread. Cornbread and chili is one of astrological anomalies, they just go together. My second favorite way of eating chili is on Fritos, covered with cheese. Frito Chili pie is one of my favorite things. Thirdly, I like chili on top of thin spaghetti noodles covered in mountains of Parmesan cheese. This third variation has always been called, Spaghetti Red, but I've heard it called, Three-way in some parts of the country. I'm also sure there are places where people who are reading this post will shove themselves away from their computer and grab their heads in utter disbelief. But, gentle reader, trust me, it's delicious.
One of my good friends, Sharon, who happened to work with me at a church in Texas once shocked the holy grail right out of me. We were organizing a carnival and she and her husband agreed to run the snack shack. I came up with the menu: hot dogs, nachos, chili dogs, chili cheese nachos, Frito Pie, on and on. "Will we have just one question?" "Ok, what's that?" "What's a Frito Pie?" Time, at that moment, stood still. "You've never heard of a Frito Pie?" "No." "You've NEVER had a Frito pie?" "No." It was at that moment that everything else in the world came to a stop, she was having a Frito Pie before anything else--period! A layer of Fritos, cheese, chili, more Fritos, cheese, chili, topped with cheese. "Here, try this...you have to try this." Her first bite was all it took. Eyes rolled back into her head followed by that, "where have you been all my life" look on her face. It's that good.
This Texas Red is as easy as easy can be, has simple ingredients and yet does not lack flavor at all. I made this Friday morning, while we were enjoying some fall break fun at my Mom's, and last night we enjoyed walking into a kitchen that was filled with the smell of chili, waiting for us! How bad can that be? Anytime you walk into a house and dinner is waiting on you...bonus. I made a double batch and dished up the second batch into Correlle bowls, so Mom could have homemade chili all winter. It freezes great. I like to make up big batches of food and freeze them for my Mom since doesn't' always make the best choice when it comes to eating for one. She just doesn't' want to go to the trouble of cooking and making a mess for herself.
One batch of this chili will give you seven good size servings, and more Frito pies, of course. It does freeze great and will keep in the fridge for several days. If you are cooking for one, then I say whip up a batch of this chili and freeze it. Mom is planning to take some of this over to her other single friends to share the wealth.
3 pounds lean Ground beef
1 packet Williams Chili Seasoning (If it is for 1lb, then buy three)
4 regular size (10 plus ounce) cans of Ranch Style Beans (Canned Pinto Beans are fine, too)
3 cups V-8 Juice
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon Garlic Salt
1 Tablespoon pepper
In a large stock pot, brown the ground beef until no longer pink, drain if needed. Add Chili seasoning to meat and stir well to combine. Pour in juice, stir, then add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cook 30 minutes or longer. Note: As soon as all the ingredients are added, I will pour this into a Crockpot and cook on low until ready to serve. It will thicken nicely.
I like the subtle sweetness that the ketchup adds, it does not overwhelm the dish at all. Of course this recipe can be cut down or blown up accordingly. I would suggest you season to taste with the garlic salt and pepper because it never really works to just cut or blow up seasonings. I like using V-8 juice because it adds more flavor, feel free to use tomato juice. I've grown up on Williams Chili and Taco seasoning and won't try another. I would assume other chili seasonings are good if you can't find Williams.