The Central Texas temperatures have finally dipped below 90 degrees during the day and below 70 at night. This makes my family start to crave a hearty bowl of beef chili. I know that doesn’t sound very Fall-like for many of you, but we’ve just spent the last six months braving the 90-100+ degree days.
I grew up eating and cooking chili. My dad cooked with his brothers in many chili cook-offs. I also tried my hand at cooking in a few cook-offs. My problem with this type of chili is that you cannot use any fillers when you prepare it…that means no tomatoes or sauce, no beans, potatoes or corn…only meat, peppers and onions, chili powder, seasonings and water.
While I love chili cook-off chili, my real love for chili grew from a recipe my mother made from the back of the Gephardt’s Chili Powder bottle. Unlike the chili we used to make for cook-offs, it has tomato sauce which adds a slightly tangy taste. When I was younger, my mother would add potatoes instead of beans to stretch the number of servings.
I cooked this same recipe for years occasionally substituting beans, corn or hominy for the potatoes, or tomatoes with chilies for plain diced tomatoes, or ground pork or chicken for ground beef. Sometimes I would add chopped fresh peppers or use a different variety of chili powder. I’ve even made my own chili powder.
This recipe is one of my daughter’s favorites and she asks for this variation more than any other…Beef Chili with Pinto Beans. It isn’t very complicated but when you cook the ingredients separately and then put them together, you add more layers of flavor. I love the versatility of this recipe, too. It’s easy to swap out the ingredients for what you might have on hand. Last week my daughter preferred her chili with lentils, this week was pinto beans. But that may change next week when I ask, “Black beans, corn or hominy?”