I set out to make the perfect chili the other day.  Perfect according to me, that is. I was going for a chili similar to one my best friend's mom always made while we were growing up or maybe a chili just a little more hearty than the one she always made. I think I came close to what I was going for, to my idea of perfect. Here's what I did.

I started by browning 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (80/20) in my cast iron dutch oven.  Once brown, I scooped the beef out onto a plate, leaving the grease in the bottom of the pot.  To that grease, I added a small, chopped, white onion and let it cook. Then I sprinkled in a whole bunch of cumin, maybe a 1/4 teaspoon, half as much chili powder and pinch of Cayenne pepper and about half a teaspoon of salt and stirred it around with the onions.  I cooked the onions in the grease and spices till they were translucent.

Next, I added two 28 ounce cans of whole tomatoes and their juice, crushing the tomatoes one at a time as they went in. Warning: Crushing whole tomatoes is messy business. They're like little bombs so wear an apron.

Then I drained and rinsed three cans of kidney beans, each a different color or size and added all those beans to the tomato- onion- spice mixture. There didn't seem to be enough juice, so I filled one of the empty cans with water and added that to the pot till it looked like enough broth to me.  Then I added another approx. 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/8 teaspoon chili powder, a pinch of Cayenne pepper and another approx. half a teaspoon of salt and stirred.

I let that simmer for a little bit then I added the beef back to the pot along with yet another 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/8 teaspoon chili powder, another pinch of Cayenne and another half a teaspoon of salt.  I let all that simmer, stirring occasionally, while I made cornbread.

With that, my chili turned out pretty near perfect, in my opinion. Both my girls had seconds and Dwayne said he liked it and he isn't one to just blow smoke. 


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