Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Easy Chili

By Paul Briand

My son David called the other evening from college, not about money or his courses, but about my easy chili recipe. I've used this recipe often and cooked it with him most recently when we were together for a few days toward the end of his junior semester in London. We made this chili in his dorm kitchen and shared it with the friends he'd made during his semester at King's College.

He was entertaining again and couldn't remember the specifics of the recipe. So here it is for David and you.

1 1/4 pounds hamburger
1 onion
1 green pepper
Several cloves garlic
16 ounce red kidney beans
Chili seasoning mix
24 ounce jar of salsa

1) Chop onions and green pepper;
2) Peel and mash (or rough chop) the garlic. Use more to satisfy your own particular garlic need, by the way;
3) In a large skillet at medium/high heat, sautee onions, peppers and garlic in heated olive oil;
4) As the vegetables just begin to soften (about three minutes) add hamburger;
5) Cook hamburger thoroughly and drain excess grease from pan;
6) Add chili seasoning mix and completely stir through the mixture;
7) Add kidney beans undrained and completely stir through;
8) Add salsa, stir through and reduce heat to low/medium;
9) Add a bottle of your favorite beer, a little at a time to control the foamy head;
10) Heat through, about 10 minutes, stirring as needed;
11) Serve with any number of toppings -- sour cream, shredded cheese and sliced jalapenos for example.

Now, there are about a billion chili recipes out there. Okay maybe not that many, but do a Google search of "chili recipes" and you'll get 690,000 results.

What I like about this recipe, besides the fact that it's quick and easy, is its versatility. The versatility comes with the salsa, because, once again, there are about a billion salsas out there. You can choose a mild, medium or hot salsa. You can use a thin salsa, a chunky salsa, or a southwestern style with some beans and corn in the salsa. And there is versatility in the beer you use. With some darker beers the hops and caramel will add a certain nuttiness to the chili, less so with lighter beers. And, of course, you can elect to cook without the beer and add up to 1 1/2 cups of water instead.

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