Chili recipe winter 2010/2011

I’m doing some housecleaning here on the website, and I came across this post with a recipe for veggie chili. In the intervening four years, I’ve significantly changed how I make chili. This isn’t a recipe per se, it’s more of a description of the process I use to make chili.

Photo by Manuel W


  • Olive oil – nothing too strongly flavored
  • 3 cans of beans, drained – The Goya 15.5 ounce cans are fine. I’ll usually put in kidney beans, chick peas, and Roman beans, but use any beans you like.
  • 2 – 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce – I like Hunt or Del Monte sauce. Don’t cheap out on this, the tomato sauce is an important flavor in your chili.
  • 1 – 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained – The low-sodium ones are best. Avoid the ones with spices, you’ll be flavoring these quite thoroughly on your own.
  • Habaneros – preferably orange ones. One and a half of these will get the chili pleasantly spicy, three will make the chili quite hot.
  • Sliced onions – 4 or 5 medium ones should be about right – keep slicing them until you don’t quite have enough to fill an 11-inch frying pan
  • Garlic – a few cloves, sliced or chopped
  • Ground meat or fake meat – the equivalent of half a pound of ground beef


  • 1 heaping teaspoon of mustard – I use Grey Poupon, you can substitute mustard powder if that’s what you have (but don’t use as much).
  • Cinnamon powder – perhaps as much as you would add to coffee grounds to get a slight taste of cinnamon.
  • Honey – a squirt or two

Slice the onions and garlic, and slowly saute them in a little bit of olive oil. You don’t want these fried, but caramelizing them would be overkill; try to maintain some of the sharpness of the onions. A medium to low flame for about 20 minutes should do the trick. Add oil from time to time and stir.

While this is going on, slice the habaneros into small pieces. I use gloves for this, since habaneros juices hurt if you get them into a paper cut or under a fingernail.

Put the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes into a medium-sized pot and turn the flame on low. When the onions and garlic are done, add them to the pot. Stir this from time to time, scraping the bottom of the pot to keep things from sticking.

It’s time to saute the habaneros. Despite what I’ve been told about using a high flame for this, I find a medium flame preserves the non-spicy flavors of the pepper. Cook them for a minute or two, then add them to the pot.

Use the frying pan to cook the ground meat, then add it to the pot along with the beans.

Now it’s time to add the spices. I used to use an entire row of spices, including chili powder, oregano, and paprika, but I prefer to cook the chili for less time and let the flavors of the ingredients stand out more. You may need salt of you’re using one of the blander fake ground meats (cough Quorn cough). Add less than you think you’ll need; you can always add more later on.

Cook the chili on a low flame, hot enough to barely bubble. Keep stirring and scraping the bottom; even with a teflon pot, you’ll get chili sticking to the bottom and burning if you don’t.

Optional: A small can of corn nuggets or sausage. Add them when you add the meat and the beans.


4 thoughts on “Chili recipe winter 2010/2011

    1. This isn’t a recipe per se, it’s more of a description of the process I use to make chili.

      Generally, cook it until it’s done. An hour or maybe two? Keep tasting it until it’s as spicy as you want it to be.

      Another tip–I like the fact that chili changes a little with each reheating, so I don’t do this, but If controlling the amount of spiciness is important to you, then you could put the spicy peppers in a cheesecloth bag and cook it like that, pulling the bag out when you’re happy.

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