(30 minutes prep, 30-60 minutes cooking, not much cleanup)
One pound ground buffalo (turkey or 9% ground beef will also work)
3 medium carrots
1 green pepper
1 largish onion
1 stick celery
4-5 cloves garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder (we get ours from Whole Foods), or to taste (less is often more)
2-3 tsp oregano
28oz can whole plum tomatoes
8oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
1-2 T brown sugar (optional)
15oz can beans of your choice (e.g., Red Kidney beans) (optional)
15oz can corn (optional)
Put carrots in food processor, run them until they’re roughly like cornmeal (10 1-second pulses). Chop green pepper and celery more roughly (say 5 pulses). Set aside.
Roughly chop onion and garlic together. We’re not talking puree, just a rough to fine chop, and largish pieces are okay.
Put whole tomatoes in food processor, chop very roughly, set aside. (I used to use pre-chopped tomatoes, but whole ones are far better).
Brown meat, make sure you break it up really well. Salt and pepper to taste. Once things get going, sprinkle with half the cumin and half the chili powder and mix in really well. With buffalo and turkey I don’t bother to drain any fat, it’s your choice about what to do if you use ground beef.
While the meat is browning, in a deepish pot brown the onions and garlic, add salt and pepper to taste. After a few minutes (the onions are soft and just turning a bit transparent) add the carrots, green pepper and celery. Add maybe 1/3 cup water to get some steam action going. Sprinkle the rest of the cumin and chili powder, add the oregano and mix well. Add more water as necessary to prevent burning, cook for a maybe five more minutes.
Add browned meat to the pot, add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Add brown sugar if you want. Stir, reduce heat once it’s bubbling. Simmer for at least half an hour. You can add the beans and corn now or five or ten minutes before serving (or never).
My wife complains that I often make this too hot. It helps to have a predictable chili powder and cumin; you’ll just have to experiment. With fewer spices this approaches a spaghetti sauce rather than a chili (which is fine in my book).
As always, the chili is better the next day…