Chili is a simple recipe, and the best part about it is that it can suffer a great extent of variations to fit various tastes, without losing its main idea, that of a tasty meal that can feed a large crowd without a problem.
The first thing to do when you are cooking chili is to make sure that the meat you are using is braised enough to become tender. The last thing I need when I prepare chili is to notice at the end that the meat is too chewy to enjoy. My mom practically hammered this idea into my head when she taught me how to make chili, and to this day, I follow her advice to the letter.
Do you know what I do to make sure the meat in my chili is tender enough? It may sound a bit unorthodox, but I add the tomatoes towards the end of the cooking process. Acidic foods, like tomatoes, can slow down the tenderizing process of the meat, which is why you should not join the two at the beginning of the recipe.
Now, let me get you straight to the purpose of this blog post, which is to tell you all about how I make chili. The first step is to brown the meat. Now, this step is always the same, no matter what kind of meat you use and in what shape, be it ground meat or lean cuts. I use a wooden spoon to break the meat as it browns, to make sure that there will be no spots left untouched by the drop of oil I use, and of course, to avoid having uncooked bits in the chili.
I use the same pot for cooking the veggies because I find that the taste of meat left in the pan is quickly absorbed by the vegetables, giving them a delicious taste. I chop one onion, which I cook in half a spoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes, after which I add other vegetables: one green bell pepper, one red bell pepper, a small zucchini, one carrot and a bit of celery. Depending on how tough the vegetable is, I suggest dicing them more finely.
I use garlic, too, but I add this towards the end of this step. I make a bit of space in the middle of the pot, and place there the minced garlic (two or three cloves are enough). I leave the garlic to let out its particular fragrance for half a minute; then I mix everything.
I add the seasonings after that. I prefer chili powder, oregano, and cumin, as well as salt and pepper. Then, I add the browned meat and three cups of broth. I bring everything to simmer and then cook the chili for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.
I add the tomatoes at the end, to avoid obtaining chewy meat and let everything to simmer for about 10 minutes more. I prefer serving my chili with grated cheese, but you can choose any garnish you like.