For many years we have worked with a Midwestern chili seasonings company, Williams Foods, and one of the highlights of the year is the huge Chili Challenge held in Lenexa, Ks. It was just last weekend!
This year, about 200 teams competed for the honors and the air was absolutely tantalizing with the smells of simmering chilies. Take a look at this year’s fun! The weather was beautiful and the crowds were huge!
For 17 years we judged a national chili recipe contest for Williams Foods and really believe there is no one “right”—or “wrong” way to make chili. We have seen thick ones, thin ones, hotter-than-fire ones, kid-mild ones, ones with beans or without beans, and ones with (or without) every kind of meat imaginable. There are lots of new and trendy gourmet chilies—but this time, I am sharing a comforting, old-fashioned Midwestern chili recipe.
What makes it Midwestern? Tomatoes and ground beef with red kidney beans. We laugh but we can almost always tell where people are from by the kind of chili they make. Here in the Midwest it often includes red or kidney beans. Travel down Route 66 into Oklahoma and the beans of choice are pinto beans and Texans often don’t add beans. New Mexico chili is often chunks of beef with a pot of beans cooked separately.
So here is my version—nothing trendy about it. Easy to fix, easy to freeze for another night, and easy to add a little more spice if you want to turn up the heat. Yes, it is made with Williams Chili Seasoning, but if you grew up in the Kansas City area like both Roxanne and I did, that is the way we made chili. It is pure chili seasoning, and doesn’t have the salt or fillers that many mixes do, so we use it often. But, if you live in a region that doesn’t have Williams products, follow the tips on the recipe.
We love to talk to people about chili–the chili they remember as a child, the one they ate at that diner down the road, the trendiest chili they just tasted or the next new chili recipe they are dreaming up. Let us know your chili story.
2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes, not drained
3/4 cup medium salsa
1 package (1 ounce) Williams Chili Seasoning * (Original, Tex-Mex or Chipotle)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cans (15 oz each) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Cook ground beef, onion and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until beef is browned. Drain.
Stir remaining ingredients, except beans, into beef and onions. Cook, covered, over medium heat until simmering. Reduce heat to low and cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in beans. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Chili is great to garnish and it is the perfect way to customize the bowl of chili so everyone gets their favorite. Set out such toppings as chopped onions, sliced jalapeno peppers, shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, minced cilantro or sliced green onions.
For a spicier chili, add 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper hot pepper sauce. Or substitute 1 can (10 to 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes and green chilies for one of the cans of diced tomatoes.
If Williams Chili Seasoning is not available, substitute 3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves. Season to taste with 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.