About this time every year, without fail, you can find a 24-ounce can of Italian diced tomatoes, kidney beans and ground beef in my shopping cart. When the weather begins to welcome fall and football season, my mouth starts watering for a big pot of chili, but not just any ol’ chili. Smokey and slightly sweet, my recipe includes a few tricks that really bump up the flavor, simmering gently on the stovetop and filling my home with the comforting aroma of bacon and onion.
While it’s simmering, I usually whip up a batch of jalapeno cornbread, and then the fall season can officially begin.
Chili is one of those one-pot meals that’s perfect for serving a crowd or making a big batch of on Sunday and eating throughout the week. I love using the leftovers for adding to grilled hot dogs and nachos. Like barbecue, pimento cheese and chicken salad in the South, everyone seems to have an opinion about what makes the best kind. Entire cook-off competitions and festivals are built around this beef and bean phenomenon.
With common, affordable ingredients, it’s an approachable, non-pretentious dish that amateur cooks and novices alike take pleasure in preparing.
Alongside chili, I serve an array of scrumptious toppings like shredded cheddar, diced scallions, sour cream and oyster crackers. The golden brown cornbread is cooked, buttered and served in a cast iron skillet.
Clean-up is easy and the leftovers taste even better the next day.
Earlier this week I decorated my home with pumpkin candles and all things fall. I bought a few small hay bales to adorn my front porch and the cutest scarecrow that says, “Happy Pumpkin Spice Season!”
From the attic, we pulled down the faux strand of colorful leaves for the mantle, and on either end placed large jars that hold tealight candles and read messages like, “Leaves are falling, autumn is calling” and “Give thanks.” The weather may be uncooperative at times, but festive food and decor always cheer me up and get me excited to welcome the beauty of autumn. The first official day of fall is Sept. 22.
Today I’m sharing a chili recipe that I’ve enjoyed many times and from which I’ve developed my own. It is a fantastic take on chili from Food Network’s Pat Neely. It’s Some Kinda Good every time; and as my Daddy would say, “That chili don’t need nothin’ but eatin’.” Happy fall, y’all!
Pat Neely's Famous Beef and Pork Chili
6 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 cup beer (recommended: Budweiser)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (24-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (24-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
Lime wedges, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish
Shredded Cheddar, for garnish
Sliced scallions, for garnish
In large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until lightly crisp, stirring occasionally. Once the bacon is browned, add the garlic, onions, bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chili powder, oregano, and smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Cook until the vegetables are tender and seasonings are aromatic. Add the beef and break it up with a wooden spoon.
Once beef is broken up and beginning to brown, add the pork. Break up with wooden spoon like the beef, and brown, until no longer pink, roughly 4 minutes. Stir in the beer and beans. Toss together, then add the crushed and diced tomatoes. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary.
Transfer the chili to serving bowls and garnish with lime wedges, sour cream, shredded cheese and sliced scallions.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season.
Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.