Grand Prize Chili
Chili contests are serious business, with local and regional competition leading ever higher. Ray Calhoun has won his share. But like barbecue, chili can ignite passions hotter than the main ingredients. Cubed beef? Or ground? Tomatoes? Beans? Some say neither, some keep the options open. This award-winning chili from Ray Calhoun uses the preferred 1/4-inch dice for the beef, and adds some tomato and beans. For purists, it may not be authentic -- meat and seasonings and a little personal magic -- but it tastes just plain great. Just add crusty bread, beer or soft drinks, and chilly weather.
- Vegetable Oil - 1/4 cup
- Beef Chuck or Round - 3 pounds, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, or “chili ground” (very coarsely ground) beef
- Onion - 1, peeled and finely chopped
- Garlic Cloves - 4, peeled and finely chopped
- Paprika - 1 tablespoon
- Chili powder - 5 to 6 tablespoons
- Ground Cumin - 1 tablespoon
- Dried Oregano - 1 teaspoon
- Tomato Sauce - one, 8-ounce can
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Water - 1 cup, or more to taste
- Jalapeno Chili - 1, seeded and halved, or 1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- Pinto Beans - 3 cups, cooked
- Finely minced onion for garnish
- Cheddar Cheese - 1 cup, grated, for garnish
In a covered saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the beef until it is evenly browned and no pink shows. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the paprika, chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and stir for 3 minutes to cook the spices. Add the tomato sauce, salt, and water and stir to combine. Add the extra chili or cayenne if you want hotter chili.
Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed, up to 1 cup depending on the rate of simmer.
To serve: place some pinto beans in the bottom of bowls and ladle in the chili. Sprinkle with chopped onion and cheese.
Note: The chili can be made up to 3 days in advance, and it freezes extremely well.