Hi folks – Jason here. Atlanta is still battling the remnants of Snowpocalypse 2011. Most schools are closed for the fourth day in a row. Anne and I are getting juuuust a bit of cabin fever.
Being snowed-in for almost a week with seemingly never-ending sub-freezing temperatures outside has made us crave comfort food. And nothing says “comfort” on a winter snow day like a warm bowl of chili.
The aromas coming from that pot of simmering deliciousness are alone enough to soothe even the worst case of cabin fever.
Now, this is no fancy chili. There are no “clever” ingredients like cinnamon or chocolate. There are no white beans. This chili is about as beautifully basic as you can get, and because of that, it is absolutely delicious.
This is the chili that I grew up eating. My mom would fix it at least once a week. My dad, who does all of the cooking these days, still fixes a batch for himself and my mom on a weekly basis. Once I started cooking on my own, this chili recipe was one of the first that I requested from my dad. I made it for Anne shortly after we were married, and she fell in love with it immediately.
We’ll call it “La-La’s Chili,” because my mom was the first to make it for me, and because “La-La” is what all my cousin’s kids call my mom now, and it’s probably what my niece and my own children will call her too. And, to honor my dad, I’m going to present the recipe as he originally passed it on to me. As you’ll see, my dad doesn’t measure anything – it drives me nuts. He explains spice quantities in terms of “shakes” or “taps.”
The only variations from the original recipe are that I use only black beans – I think my dad still uses kidney beans, or a mix – and I may have kicked up the spices just a bit.
La-La’s Chili (a Faulkner family tradition)
- 1 pound ground beef (chuck, for the most flavor)
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 3 cans tomato sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 cans black beans
- “50 shakes” of chili powder
- “40 shakes” of cumin
- “5 taps” of cayenne pepper
- “15 turns” of a pepper grinder
- “10 seconds” with a salt shaker (okay, let me help you with this one – use 1 teaspoon)
We typically do everything in the same pot. So, in a large pot, brown the meat; then add the onion and bell pepper and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Then stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and black beans. Reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally until the chili starts to bubble. Stir in all the spices, and reduce the heat to low so that the chili continues to simmer slowly. Cook for at least one hour, but ideally three, so that the chili is nicely reduced and thicker.
Serve the chili without any fancy toppings if you want the traditional experience. However, a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, and a few drops of Tabasco sauce are nice accompaniments.
Thanks, La-La, for starting such a delicious tradition!