My Chilis

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Chicagoans, the lineup for the next Funny Ha-Ha, November 30, has been solidified--read all about it here and save the date!

Yesterday I was talking to my mom who said she was making chili for dinner. "What kind?" I asked and she looked at me strangely: just chili. I explained that I have a bunch of difference chilis, each of which serves a different purpose. She thought about it and realized that she also had more than one chili (I'm going to give the recipe below for the one she was going to make), offering my dad a black-bean chili instead. So since I like cooking and it's fall I thought I'd just share with my my different chilis. If you have ones you'd like to share, send me the recipe to share with people but you have to explain under what circumstances you eat it.

Beef & Bean Chile Verde is what I make when Steve and I have arguments over me wanting to make something kind of healthy and him not wanting to suffer from wheatgrass germseed carrot shavings or whatever it is he thinks I eat. It's got lean beef in it so it's meaty but has a lot of veggies in it too. It's nothing magical and amazing but it's quick and I have no problem with it. I like to make it kind of spicy so you drink a lot (of water) with it which makes you feel extra-full.

White Bean and Chicken Chili. I haven't made this in a while: I need to make it again. This is just a good chili that's a little bit lighter than beef chili but thanks to the half and half and if you use that delicious greasy rotisserie chicken from the grocery store it still feels indulgent. Probably because it is. But so what. It sort of reminds me of this delicious turkey chili I ate on a break from the slopes when my friend Lauren invited me to her ski house in Utah. I still can't believe that really happened.

This Cincinnati chili from Cook's Illustrated is Steve's favorite chili. I don't blame him, I think it's delicious but to me it's not really "chili" (which is an example of how I'm not from Cincinnati.) It's a very decadent and delicious pasta dish. But not chili. I served it to some friends who came over to watch the Super Bowl last year (nice to let everyone decide how much pasta, onions, beans, cheese they want) and it was all gone by the end of the night.

Now below is the most old-school of the chilis to me, probably because I grew up eating it. My mom would make a huge thing of chili for various cozy holidays like Halloween or Super Bowl Sunday. It's the kind of chili that stains your tupperware. You are required to load it up with cheese, onions and oyster crackers. I made a huge thing of it myself last year for an open house and it was very popular. I don't even know what its actual title is and when I tried googling the recipe I couldn't find anything so I'm just going to call it:

My Mom's Chili

1 c. chopped onions
1 green pepper, diced
2 gloves garlic, chopped fine
2 lb ground beef
2 slices bacon, chopped fine
2.5 lb canned diced tomatoes
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1.5 cans Brook's Hot Chili Beans (or more or less as you see fit)
4 tsp. sugar
4 tsp. salt
4 Tbl. chili powder diluted in 4 Tbl. warm water

Cook the bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Drain on paper towels but save the bacon drippings to saute the onions, garlic and green peppers until golden and tender. Add ground beef, breaking up with a fork, until meat is lightly browned. Drain off fat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, salt and chili powder diluted in water. Cover saucepan and bring to a quick boil. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Stir more than occasionally so as not to burn the bottom of your pot. Then add beans in their sauce and simmer an additional 15 minutes. Stir in reserved bacon.

Mandatory toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar, chopped onions, oyster crackers

This makes a ton (make sure to use your biggest pot) but you might as well make all of it and freeze the leftovers. To quote my mom, "you'll be glad you did."

[Note from my mom: It's called "Chili Con Carne" and comes from "The New Antoinette Pope School Cookbook". I don't think you'd call it "new" anymore, since the copyright is 1961.]