I’ve experimented for years with various chili recipes. Some had too many tomatoes, too many beans, not enough seasonings, too greasy, too spicy, too bland … you get the idea. I finally figured out a recipe that works great for our family, fits in with our food guidelines, and is delicious. My people have asked for this chili in the middle of summer, because, clearly, we are insane. There are so many variations for this, so it’s easily adaptable for Paleo, vegetarians/vegans, low-carb, etc. I will include some of my variations, but feel free to tweak and let me know what you think. If you hate it – I apologize. More for me!
2 Tbsp. coconut oil or fat of your choice
2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef (2 lbs. of leftover turkey, chicken or 45 oz. of various beans, such as black, kidney, pinto, navy, if vegetarian/vegan)
2 large onions, chopped
3 – 5 celery stalks, chopped
5 – 8 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 peppers, chopped (we prefer red peppers and maybe 1 jalapeño)
1 jar tomato paste (7 oz.)
3 – 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 heaping Tbsp. chili powder
1 heaping Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
1 – 2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
6 – 8 cups homemade beef stock, chicken stock or vegetable stock
In a large Dutch oven or pot, melt the fat over medium heat. Don’t let it smoke. Add the onions, celery, and carrots, a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt, and sauté approximately 10 minutes; just enough to get all the water out of the vegetables. Add the peppers, another sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper and continue to sauté about 5 more minutes. Once all the water has evaporated, add the protein of your choice, breaking it up, if necessary, until browned. If using leftover meat or beans, sauté just enough to thoroughly mix it into the vegetables. Add the spices, herbs, tomato paste, garlic, and balsamic vinegar, until well incorporated. Pour in the stock of your choice, and bring the heat up to a boiling point. Stir well, then reduce to a simmer for 1 1/2 hours, continuing to stir occasionally. Taste and then adjust seasonings, if necessary. I usually have to add more salt or herbs and spices because I can’t leave a recipe alone! Serve with the toppings that follow your dietary guidelines: grated raw milk cheddar cheese, guacamole, creme fraiche, and cilantro are some of the usual options.
Vegetable variations: My favorite vegetable additions are chopped fennel or leeks, sautéed with the regular veggies, and finely chopped collard greens, spinach or kale, stirred in toward the end of cooking time. When I’ve added fennel or leeks, I’m always asked, “What is IN this?” They are delicious.
Spice variations: You can always make it hotter or milder, depending on your family’s preferences. Add jalapeño or other chile peppers for a hotter sauce, some adobo sauce to taste for increased smokiness, or more balsamic for additional umami.
*Note: some of the ingredient measurements are based on how large the vegetables or other ingredients are. If you have massive carrots, maybe you should only use 2. This is completely up to you!
Let me know how it works for your family and what variations you made!