Super Bowl Recipes: Chili, The Versatile XLV Party Performer

Chili is a near-perfect Super Bowl party food. You can't go wrong serving a simple bowl of chili, perhaps garnished with some cheddar cheese and sour cream. But Chili is versatile. You can dip crackers or tortilla chips in it, or spoon it over a hot dog, burger or noodles. The leftovers even work at breakfast, when you can create a chili omelet.

My first memory of chili comes from a visit to 7-11, of all places. As a child, I wasn't often challenged with unfamiliar food, and my family never made chili; perhaps the closest thing to it was Hamburger Helper. I had zero interest in chili of any kind. But Dad convinced me to try what 7-11 labels as chili on my Big Bite hot dog, and I liked it -- whatever it was.

Since then, chili has become a bit of an obsession, and it's a comfort food I always come back to. I've experimented with various meats, ingredients (for instance, I stopped using beans because my wife doesn't like them), spices and techniques, and settled on a basic batch that's become a crowd-pleaser.

So here's my Super Bowl recipe, but feel free to make it your own. Call an audible on the spice mixture, add beans or more peppers, turn up or tame the heat -- whatever works for you and your crew. That's another beauty of chili -- there are many styles and methods for making a perfect pot.

Chilistir_medium

Ingredients:

1 pound of ground beef or ground turkey
1 pound of ground meatloaf mix (beef, pork, veal)
2 TBS of oil to brown the beef (I use olive oil)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped (I prefer red, but any will do; sometimes I mix and match)
3 to 4 cloves or garlic, chopped up

1 26 oz can of tomato puree
2 16 oz can of diced tomatos
1 beer

For the spice mix (whisk it all together in a bowl):

3 TBS of chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp of cinamon
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste

Get to work:

In your big pot, heat the oil and start browning the meat. sprinkle in about a third of your spice mix as you're doing this, as well as the chopped onion. When you're nearly done browning, drop in the chopped garlic and pepper.

Do not drain the grease from the pot. Instead, put in everything else: spices, beer, tomatoes. (you would add the beans now too if you so desired.) Make sure to take a sip or two of the beer first, to make sure it's okay.

Mix it up good, cover it and simmer on low, stirring fairly regularly, for at least 30 to 45 minutes.

The garnishes are up to you. A bowl of chili often is served topped with with shredded cheese and sour cream, though it certainly can stand alone. Some pour it over a batch of spaghetti noodles for a Cincinnati style approach, which gives the meal a little more heft.

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