Chili is one of those dishes that get people all worked up. Beans or no beans, tomatoes or no tomatoes, armadillo or no armadillo...you name it, someone will claim it's not really chili with/without various ingredients.
My mother made what she called "Chili Soup". She would take 2 quarts of homemade stewed tomatoes, two cans of kidney beans, a pound of ground beef, a couple of onions chopped fine, a tablespoon of chili powder and about 4 quarts of water, cook it up and serve it with lots of crackers. Mom also loved Wendy's chili because it reminded her of homemade chili.
Blech! I hated chili until I went away to college and ate chili at the original BW3. They used to have Buffalo Breath Chili. It was a meat paste with lots of flavor. No tomatoes that I recall, and no beans...just meat and spices. And hot - boy was it hot....You could weld with this shit it was so hot. I loved it. It was real in a way that Mom's and Wendy's chili wasn't.
A recent "chili" recipe in a local newspaper called Columbus Alive called for 54 oz of tomato products to 16 oz of ground beef. That is just wrong. That is flavored tomato sauce with beef in it.
My definition is fairly broad: Chili is a stew that consists of ground meat seasoned with chili peppers, tomatoes and onions with just enough liquid added to turn it into soup instead of a loose meat sandwich. The major ingredient must be ground meat. Not water - not tomatoes- not beans. All those ingredients can play a supporting roll, but I want meat dammit. Meat Meat Meat!!!!
I will be honest - I do not have pictures of my chili. Mostly because they were so damned unattractive I deleted them from the camera. It looked like - ummm - body stuff. Bad body stuff. Chili is one of those foods that just isn't very photogenic. The same with my cream of tomato soup. Tastes great - photographs badly. My food porn is definitely amateur. It is equal to real amateur porn shot with an flabby chick who has a skin rash and a c-section scar. Wrong wrong wrong!!! (Pardon me while I wash that image from my mind with a bottle of beer...)
I have a couple different version of chili - one where I take my time and roast dried chiles and grind them into a paste so on and so forth. That's my "I have nothing better to do this weekend but cook" chili. I don't make that very often anymore. Then I have my "friends are coming over and want something that will warm them up because it -17 with the windchill" chili. This is that recipe. If you want a "I have nothing better to do this weekend" recipe, I recommend wasting time on the Internet before starting. There are people who are more anal than I putting up their recipes online for you to try out.
Rosie's It Too Damn Cold Outside Chili
(This will fill my 6 qt crockpot which I use as a warmer when we are having people over)
6 pounds of ground beef (yeah SIX pounds - I didn't say this was cheap)
4 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 fresh chile pepper chopped (such as jalapeno, Anaheim or whatever is lurking at the grocery store that looks good.)
2 packages of onion soup mix (Yeah - onion soup mix - deal with it)
1 bottle of good beer
1/4 cup of good commerical chili powder (I use hot chili powder from Penzey's)
1 t cumin powder
2 t of Mexican oregano
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 chipolte peppers in adobo sauce
2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 15 oz cans of tomatoes with chile peppers
1 6 oz can of tomato sauce (Mexican style if you have it)
Black Pepper to taste
Brown off the beef with onions, peppers and garlic in batches. Add the veggies after the meat has started to cook to avoid burning the garlic. Drain off fat. Put in a large dutch oven or heavy soup pot.
Add everything else to the pot. After you add the beer, add enough water to make sure everything is wet. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 hours stirring every so often until the beef is tender and flavors are melded. Taste partway through cooking and adjust the amount of salt - since I am using so many canned ingredients plus the onion soup mix, it usually doesn't require any additional.
That's it. Pretty straight forward. It's the kind of dish I know can be ready to feed a crew without a lot of work on my part. Serve with shredded cheese, chopped onions, crackers and anything else that strikes your fancy.
To extend the batch of chili, you can serve it over spaghetti (bastards!) or save some out and hit it with a stick blender and turn it into the makings of fantastic chili dogs...