It’s cold and it Super Bowl season, so we should make some chili! This recipe is the result of combining my favorite chili ingredients – some surprising – into my own unique chili recipe. My whole family actually loves this recipe – though sometimes it gets a little too spicy for the Hubs and his heartburn issues. I like it super spicy, but it can be toned down if you have a heartburny person in your house.
When I was a kid, my mom made a version of this chili – it was always too spicy for my dad and had too many onions for my younger onion-hating self, but it was really all about the beans. She used lots of kidney beans, which I really loved! I noticed other moms used smaller beans, like pintos, in their chili and it just wasn’t the same as mom’s. BUT, the ingredient that really kicked up mom’s chili was her secret spice weapon: Spicy Hot V-8 juice! It’s a great mixture of tomato juice with lots of flavorful spices all in one little can.
Mom’s chili evolved for me after I had a wonderful tasting chili in a bread bowl at a little local restaurant called Carver’s in Durango, CO when the Hubs and I were still dating and were on a spring break ski trip. Their secret ingredient was hominy. I know, what’s hominy? All I know is that it’s corn that has been puffed up somehow and it’s yummy in soups and stews. The hominy and corn make for great texture in the chili – and the sweetness of the corn is a nice play against the spicy of the peppers and seasonings.
Then there’s the beans. I love the kidneys, but I pretty much love all beans, so over the years I started adding different types and found that I really like the combination of different types. The chili beans are nice because they come pre-loaded with some tasty chili sauce already, adding another layer of spice to the mixture. Feel free to play around with the choice of beans. I find that the softer white beans don’t hold up as well as the heartier kinds do, but you should definitely use the beans you like.
I uses green chiles, a jalapeno and some green bell peppers this time, but again, I recommend that you use the type of peppers you have and enjoy. Use the hotter ones of you like more spice or tone it down by using the bells instead.
If you like your chili soupier, add more tomatoes and/or V-8. We like it very thick at our house, so I hold back on the liquids.
Like all of my recipes, you have lots of room to do your thing and match your tastes. The best part of the recipe is that it’s quick to prep since it’s basically a little chopping and then a lot of dumping of ingredients into the crock-pot. If you prefer a vegetarian version, just leave out the ground beef. I do this when The Hubs is out of town and I don’t miss the beef. I’m sure you could sub in turkey or another meat, but I have never tried it myself. Oh, isn’t the little chile bowl cute? A Christmas gift from the daughter