Flexible Chili – You can’t cook it wrong {Recipe}

I know, I know.  Do we really need another chili recipe?  Yes!  This is so delicious!  Also, I promised earlier to post this recipe.  I know it is summer, and chili is a winter food, but I thought I was short on grocery money this week and had to do some pantry meals, and chili is one of the best pantry meals.  All of the ingredients can be stored in the pantry if you skip the ground beef (which I often do, much to L’s disappointment), making this a perfect zombie apocalypse recipe.

Day 1

We start off with beans.  I understand that there are some chili recipes that don’t use beans, and there are some that don’t use meat, and so all that leaves is the tomatoes and flavorings.  Beans are a must, in my opinion.  Remember to check for small stones.

stone in the beans

Stones like to hide amongst beans

Soak a pound of beans overnight with a good splash of vinegar or lemon juice and plenty of water.  I use about 6 cups of water for a pound of beans.  I use pinto beans because they are nice and inexpensive.  Kidney beans and red beans also work very well.  I don’t know that I would try black beans, but it might be interesting.

Day 2

Chili 2The next day, drain and rinse the beans, then put them in a heavy-bottomed soup pot with water to cover well and bring to a boil.  Boil for a couple of minutes, then let simmer for an hour.  When you have about a half hour left, assemble your other ingredients.

Ingredients for chiliIn this picture, we have 1) crushed tomatoes, 2) pinto beans, 3) herbs and spices (bay leaves, cumin, allspice, chili powder, and oregano), 4) ground beef, 5) green chilies, and 6) an onion.  I forgot to photograph the garlic and olive oil.

chili 3Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet.  Don goggles or grab the tissues.  Chop your onion and saute in the skillet.  When your onion has started to brown, add a pound of ground beef.  You can skip the ground beef if you don’t have any, or if you are trying to save money.  Brown up the ground beef with the onion.

chili 4Smash up some garlic.  If you aren’t crazy about garlic, you can use just one clove, or skip it.  If, like me, you think garlic is ambrosia, you can use up to a bulb.  Add the garlic to your beef and onions and cook for just a few minutes. I always add the garlic at the end of browning the beef so it doesn’t get overcooked.

Chili 5By now, the beans should be about done.  If not, that’s fine.  They will cook some more after this anyway.  Drain your beans and add the meat mixture.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir it all up and let it simmer for an hour or ten.  Flexible recipes are the best.  You can also throw it in the crock pot at this point, if you prefer.  I find that it comes out a little more watery in the crockpot, but it still tastes divine.  I think it needs some evaporation to make it to the consistency that I like.

chili 6Keep sniffing it to enjoy the aroma.  You might want to cook up some rice now, too.  I like to serve the chili over rice.  My ex liked to have it over potato chips.  It is also good by itself.  Once you have savored the aroma for an hour or more (I suppose you could get away with less time, but it won’t be as good), serve it up with some sour cream and shredded cheese.  My mouth is watering right now in anticipation as I wait to eat this for dinner tonight.

 

Financial breakdown

  • Beans from Aldi – half of a 2 lb bag for $1.69 = $0.85
  • Vinegar from Co-op – good splash or two from $5.99 = $0.28
  • Crushed tomatoes from Aldi- 2 large cans at $0.95 = $1.90
  • Green chilies from Hannaford – 2 cans at $0.99 = $1.98
  • Herbs and spices bought in bulk at the co-op = maybe $0.50 total
  • Ground beef from local farm – 1 pound at $5.50 = $5.50
  • Onion – 1 of about 6 from a bag at Aldi for $1.29 = $0.22
  • Garlic from my mother’s garden = free
  • Olive oil – one splash from $10 bottle = maybe $0.10 max

The total comes to $11.33, or if I bought the garlic it would be $12.03 max.  Half of the cost is the ground beef.  This serves 6-8 people.  It would also make a great dip for parties.

 

Print Recipe
Flexible Chili
A versatile and inexpensive pantry meal that warms both your body and your soul.
Flexible Chili
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Passive Time 12 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Passive Time 12 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Flexible Chili
Instructions
Day 1
  1. Soak beans overnight with a good splash of vinegar or lemon juice and plenty of water. Sort through them first to check for stones.
Day 2
  1. The next day, drain and rinse the beans, then put them in a heavy-bottomed soup pot with water to cover well and bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes, then let simmer for an hour.
  2. When a half hour is left for the beans, heat the oil in a cast iron skillet.
  3. Chop your onion and saute in the skillet.
  4. When your onion has started to brown, add a pound of ground beef. Brown it up with the onion.
  5. Smash up the garlic. Add it to your beef and onions and cook for just a few minutes.
  6. Drain your beans and add the meat mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir it all up and let it simmer for an hour or ten.
  7. Serve with some sour cream and shredded cheese.
Recipe Notes

All of these amounts and ingredients are flexible.  You can adjust the cooking time to pretty much whatever you want.  You can use most any type of beans.  Use meat or not, as you prefer.  No matter how you cook it up, it will be good.

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