Chili is a staple at our house in the winter. In fact, I could eat it weekly if not daily year around. The spices and flavors sing comfort to my soul and make me think of home.
It’s funny how flavors and smells can do that to us. Our senses can take us back to places or times and bring back so many good memories. To me, it’s a cold winter morning when I was a child where I am snuggled up on the floor in front of our wood stove, getting close enough to feel the hot air blow against me but not close enough to get burned. My mom would be cooking in the kitchen and I could smell the mix of peppers, onions and hot chili powder along with corn muffins cooking in the oven. Those were good times. A delicious warm lunch before we bundled up to head outside to take care of the animals. Let me just say, that winter on the farm is NOT my favorite, but that’s a story for another day.
Today, I will tell you what happened in my kitchen, with my kiddos and now I am the mom with little ones of my own. I made chili and not just any kind of chili but Bacon Burger Chili. This delicious concoction was first created by my step-dad John Henry. This glorious dish even won first prize at our church chili cook off! Yes, it is that good! But, back to today and me taking advantage of a snow day. My kids don’t have school and because we closed down the shop for business, I don’t have to go into work. So I decided to gather my ingredient and pull out the big stock pot.
Now, I should mention that when I make chili, I make a BIG pot. Like I said before, I could eat it for days. I have also invested in some nice freezer safe 2 cup containers. Once I have exhausted the number of meals in a row that I can get my family to eat chili, I divide the left overs among my containers and pop them in the freezer. These make great lunches for me on busy days. I also do this with chicken soup and beef stew as well.
I start my chili by adding the John Henry’s Bacon Burger and homemade beef bone broth into my stock pot. The bone broth I am using today was made previously in my instant pot using one of our bone broth bundles and then frozen in my 4 cup containers. Making it ahead and keeping some on hand in the freezer, makes this whole process faster. You can also buy beef broth at the store if you do not have any on hand. I just prefer to make my own in order to get all the extra nutrients I can. I can’t get my family to drink straight bone broth like I do but they can enjoy the benefits when I sneak it in dishes like this.
Once my meat is mostly browned, I add in almost all the other ingredients, holding back the Red Pepper and Tomato Soup until the end. Prepping those onions and peppers is the most strenuous part of the this whole process and it just so happens that I have found a way to make that even easier, ;-). My family is not a big fan of large chunks of onions, peppers or tomatoes in their chili so I have devised a way to pack it full of veggies without them knowing about it; my food processor! This handy dandy machine cuts up my onions and peppers into tiny pieces making them nearly undetectable to little eyes. I understand this isn’t for everyone but to my family this is the only way. Plus it is super fast! In 2 minutes, my peppers and onions are chopped and added to my pan. Once everything is added, the slow simmer dance starts. I like to call it a dance because I dance around the kitchen cleaning up or organizing while stirring the chili occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom.
As the chili cooks, the flavors collide. The smoky flavor of bacon, the rich flavor of beef, the spicy flavor of chili powder and the bright flavors of the onions and peppers. Everything comes together perfectly as the extra liquid evaporates. Now it is time to add the soup. I don’t really know how the magic happens but let me just say that the soup waves its wand and tada, the chili is finished! Well, not completely, I still let it simmer a while longer to let everything mix together even further. After about 45 mins of simmering, I let it rest on the stove. Which basically means I turn off the heat and let it sit there. Again, I don’t know why it works I just know that it does something to the flavors and it’s always better after it sits a bit.
While the chili was resting, I decided to whip up a batch of corn muffins. In my head, chili and corn muffins are a match made in heaven and should be served together. My husband will be so excited to come home to such a yummy meal.
Below is my recipe. Feel free to modify it to meet your needs, This is just how I make it and with chili there is no right or wrong way to do it.
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