Rather Good Chili


Beef, Main Courses, Originals, Soup / Monday, January 30th, 2012

On my nephew Jack’s birthday, when he alone has the power to decide what the entire family eats, he always picks the same thing for dinner: chili. And that’s fine by us, because my sister Jennifer’s chili is the kind that makes you moan before you can stop yourself. She promised to share the recipe if I’d bring petit fours to baby Riley’s first birthday party, so done and done.

By Jennifer Rather.

Chili. A culinary problem child. Everyone has a different idea of what it should should be in it, how to use it and what it should taste like. You’ve got your all-beef people. Your beef and bean people. Chicken chili. Vegetarian chili. Cincinnati chili.

Hot dog chili is a different breed from cracker chili.

It’s more confusing than sending a man for tampons.

I wanted a chili that would work for our entire family, so a few years ago, I came up with a plan. Over the course of one football season, every Sunday, I would try a different chili recipe, and the men (my husband and two boys) would grade the attempt, ranking what they liked and disliked.

Ground beef and sausage? Yes.

Green peppers? Big Fat NO.

Black beans were more warmly received than kidney beans. Thick was better than soupy.

By the playoffs, I had combined and reworked our recipe until we had a winner, our Rather Good Chili.

It’s a thick, meaty, not-too-spicy chili that almost everyone at our house deems wonderful. Jack, the boy who used to consider ketchup a side dish, asks for seconds. Laney, 2, has proclaimed it “Deeeelishus!” We even have high hopes for the Baby Girl.

The lone holdout is my oldest, Logan, who was so burned out by the taste-testing, he might never eat a bowl of chili again.

Don’t let his sacrifice go to waste.

This chili is good straight or ladled on top of a hot dog or hamburger. It’s delicious on Day One and even better on Days 2 and 3, when it lasts that long. And it’s a great chili to serve when you’re having a big group of people over, because it’s not spicy enough to have them running home early.

We’re going to serve it at baby Riley’s first birthday party, which just happens to be on SuperBowl Sunday. Fritos and petit fours might not work for every family, but they work for ours. And that’s what matters.

Rather Good Chili

Courtesy of Jennifer Rather (EzraPoundCake.com)

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
  • 1/2 lb. ground sausage
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on your love of garlic)
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine beef, sausage, onions and garlic. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain most of the fat. (Leave about a tablespoon so the meat doesn’t start sticking to the bottom of your pot.)
  2. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, flour, oregano, sugar and salt. Add to meat mixture, and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and beans, cover, and cook for an additional 45 to 60 minutes, until the beans are soft. Stir occasionally, and add water, if you need it. Serve with your choice of crackers, Fritos, cheese, sour cream, green onions – or use it to top a hot dog. It all works!