Homemade Chili Beans

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Homemade chili is perfect for a cold day or a late fall evening. It is a favorite down-home comfort food, and it's easy to cook. There are many varieties of chili beans, but Tex-Mex inspired chili beans are some of the best. With a small amount of prep work and a big pot, chili beans can easily find a place at the supper table.

The Best Beans

  • Bean preference varies from state to state and region to region. Some prefer black beans to kidney beans, while others prefer pinto beans. However, the very best beans for chili are pinto beans. Pinto beans taste good and complement the flavor of most meats, as well as easily absorb the flavor of the spices used in the chili without losing the subtle flavor of the beans.

Meat Preferences

  • Hamburger meat, ground chicken and ground turkey are all viable options for chili, and each has its own individual qualities with regard to texture and flavor. But, if it's available, ground bison or ground deer are the best options. The gamy flavor of both bison and deer adds a heartier, more flavorful touch to the chili.

    Both bison and deer are lean meats, so they do not add much extra grease to the chili. Bison has about the same amount of fat as 95 percent lean ground beef. Bison can be found at some butcher shops, and the best place to get ground deer meat is from a person who hunts regularly.

Vegetables

  • Some vegetables work well with chili beans. Finely diced onions, bell peppers and minced garlic are all important elements in chili. One large diced onion is good for an entire pot of chili beans, while two finely diced bell peppers in green, red or yellow are also good for a single pot. Add either pre-minced garlic from a jar, about two tablespoons, or one whole clove of fresh minced garlic.

    Jalapeños are a tasty option, but they're not for the faint of heart. These peppers can be rather spicy but have a great flavor. For less heat, remove the seeds before dicing and adding to the chili beans.

    Tomatoes are also a key ingredient for chili. Any tomato will do, and Bradley tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes are especially good choices. At the beginning of the cooking process, dice two or three tomatoes into small pieces and add to the chili beans. This will ensure the tomatoes will boil down and become very soft.

    Canned tomatoes, one can seasoned with chili peppers and one can unseasoned should also be used. A can of tomato paste may be added to help thicken up the mixture.

Spices

  • Spices are the backbone of any good pot of chili. Some good spices for this dish are chili powder, cumin, red pepper, cinnamon, salt and pepper, as well as the Mexican spice achiote.

    A quarter cup of brown sugar may also be added to the chili beans to cut down on the acidity and give the dish a hint of sweetness.

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