When Jordan and I first moved in together, he warned me that the only two things he could cook were pasta and mac and cheese. I ignored the fact that mac and cheese is technically pasta, and accepted the fact that I would likely be the one preparing our meals for the foreseeable future. Fast forward 8 years, and my husband has turned into quite the chef. He whips up homemade pasta sauce that rivals his Nana's, makes perfect omelets on the weekends, and can put a sear on fresh scallops that would make Gordon Ramsay proud.
One of our favorite meals to make year-round (but especially during the cold fall/winter months), is chili and cornbread. It started out as a straightforward recipe on a recipe card. But Jordan has made it his own over the years, and I'm telling you... it's the best chili I've ever had.
I call it 'freestyle chili' because the main ingredients are consistent, but he throws in different veggies or meat depending on our mood and the produce we pick up / what's in season. But for the sake of this blog post, I'm going to give you his most common mix of ingredients and as you become comfortable with this recipe, you can start to 'freestyle' and make it your own!
**Warning -- this chili is spicy! If you're not a fan of spice, leave out the habanero pepper and season with the chili powder and hot sauce to taste.
**Also note -- I know this looks like a TON of ingredients, but you likely have most of the seasonings at home, and the rest are just veggies and canned items - fear not, this is a relatively inexpensive meal to make!
-3 TB olive oil + 1 TBS butter (butter is optional)
-1 large onion - peeled / diced
-3 garlic cloves - minced
-1 jalapeno pepper - minced
-1 habanero pepper - minced
-1 orange or yellow bell pepper - diced
-1 zucchini - chopped
-1 carrot - grated
-Fresh corn from 1 cob (canned is okay too but fresh is SO much better!)
-1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
-1 (15 oz) can black beans
-1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-2 TB tomato paste
-1/2 LB Ground beef or ground turkey
-2 TB curry
-2 TB chili powder
-1 TB ground cumin
-1 TB sugar
-1 cup water
-Dash of Cholula (or any other hot sauce of your choice) to taste
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Shredded Mexican cheese
PUT IT TOGETHER
1) Wash and prep your vegetables.
2) Heat the olive oil and butter on medium high in large pot. Saute onions for one minute. Then add garlic, jalapeno and habanero -- saute for an additional minute. Salt and pepper.
3) Next add the bell pepper, zucchini, and carrot, and cook until soft (2-3 minutes).
4) Add ground meat and cook with vegetables for 2 minutes.
5) Add corn, beans, tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. Mix together -- salt and pepper.
6) Add curry, chili, cumin, hot sauce and sugar. Mix in 1 cup of water.
7) Cook it on low for 30 minutes - stirring occasionally.
Serve with warm cornbread and honey-butter (melt butter and honey in a ramekin) -- the meal isn't complete without this! Top with cheese, avocado and a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!