1 pound ground beef or ground chuck
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 medium bell peppers, diced
1-2 Anaheim peppers, diced
2 – 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained, juices reserved
1 19.75 ounce cans black beans, drained
1 19.75 ounce cans pinto beans, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (or to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoons black pepper (or to taste)
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
juice of 2 limes
optional – 1-4 jalapeno peppers, 1 habanero pepper, 1-3 teaspoons cayenne pepper – these are all major heat elements, and you can layer them in as you wish
Brown the ground beef in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. If you’re using a leaner cut of meat, add some olive oil – a tablespoon or two – to the pot to facilitate the browning. If you are using a fattier cut, let it render the fat out on its own. I like to let ground beef or chuck render, then I drain the fat, and rinse it under hot water to get even more fat off. Yes I know – normally fat means flavor and that’s a little overboard. But in this case you’re going to be adding a ton of extremely high-flavor ingredients, and I’d just as soon get rid of the fat. That way I can eat as much as I want with no guilt. It doesn’t serve a purpose here – so away with it!
Once the beef is browned and drained as necessary, return it all to the heat and bring the temperature back to about medium. Add the onions, garlic and peppers. Stir everybody up and allow the veggies to cook about ten minutes or so, or until fragrant the onions are becoming translucent. If you want to up the heat quotient – start with far less than you’ll think you need – say 1 habanero instead of 4. Put one in at this point, and give the chili an hour between each additional heat smack. You’ll thank me for this.
At this point, you can transfer the ground beef and veggies to your crock pot. Add in everything else but the lime juice, set it on low, and leave it alone for about 8 hours. If you can, about halfway through, taste it and adjust it for seasoning – salt and pepper. Be very careful with the ‘hot’ stuff, unless you know exactly how much you like. You can always add it later, but you can’t take it out.
If you’re going to finish in your Dutch oven, then everything else (except the lime juice) can now go in! Everybody into the pool! No particular order necessary – just throw it all in. Bring to a simmer, and allow it to simmer for a good long time. Give it a minimum of an hour – three-four hours is even better. My kids start dipping out of the pot the minute it’s not raw – so you may have to be sneaky at this point. Frankly it smells so good you’ll have a hard time keeping it safe.
Now – that’s the base chili. The only ‘artistry’ part you need can come into play at this point. After the first hour (or two or three hours in a slow cooker), start tasting. I can almost guarantee you’ll need salt and black pepper. If you want additional heat start layering it in now. You can add additional heat or more cumin, more chili powder – whatever you like. Just go slowly and allow the flavors to marry for a half hour or so before adding more. Remember – this is a long simmering dish, and well worth the taking a bit of time – so you’ll have opportunity to pop the flavor in any direction you like. If you’re adding additional peppers, make SURE to let them simmer in and fully incorporate.