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This Easy, Highly Customizable Chili Was a Decade in the Making

G's recipe is a go-to weeknight meal.
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Chili is a go-to meal in our home for a few reasons. First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s so customizable and personal (everyone has a preferred recipe, topping, accoutrements) that chili is one of the rare foods that can indicate your personality trait. Some people are five alarms hot heads, while others are slow burn enthusiasts. I make different versions of chili, but this is the most straightforward, hard-to-ruin, crowd pleasing iteration I cook. I’ve made adjustments over the years (less garlic, more chipotle, and eliminated straight cumin, since Em doesn’t like it) and have found the final product to strike the perfect balance between classic flavors, with a slightly more smoky finish. I prefer to eat this with as few toppings as possible, usually just a side of cornbread if we have it, or a few corn chips for dipping. Regardless of your preference, because of the massive recipe options, I’ve whittled down one version that pretty much works for everyone, while allowing a lot of flexibility for the final product. Here is my go-to chili recipe anyone can master:

Serves 4 to 6

You will need:

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
One large onion, diced
1 tablespoon dried marjoram (you can use thyme or oregano if you prefer)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more if you like extra heat)
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef, turkey, lamb or whatever you like
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 to 3 chipotles in adobo (optional)
Two 28-ounce cans of fire roasted tomatoes
One 14-ounce can of low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional toppings:

Sour cream or Greek yogurt
Green onions
Shredded cheese
Hot sauce

How to make it:

1. In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add onion and a pinch of salt—cook 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Stir in marjoram and red pepper flakes, and cook another 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion is soft.

3. Add minced garlic and cook 30 to 60 seconds, until fragrant (but not burnt), then add in the meat and mix to combine. Cook well until all meat has browned and add a pinch of salt. 

4. Add chili powder and chipotles (if using), and stir to combine, then add both cans of tomatoes, stir, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes with another pinch of salt. 

5. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Once the chili reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for several hours over low heat, until the chili has reduced by half. As it simmers, taste on a regular basis and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

6. Serve with your favorite toppings. We prefer sour cream, cilantro, avocado, green onions, and hot sauce. 

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