To be honest, I threw this blog post together after a few weeks of thinking “wow, I should make homemade chili soon.” And then yesterday, I finally did it. And it knocked our socks off.
Let’s get this straight – this is not a simple recipe. This is not a 10 ingredients or less, 30-minutes-or-less situation. But it IS fairly easy and it IS amazing. It takes just enough time and love that I can’t call it “quick”.
When I decided to try my hand at homemade chili, I did my research to understand what normally goes into what most Americans would consider a classic chili. Of course there’s chili powder (no surprise there), ground beef, often beans, and a few tomato-based ingredients like diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Adding water/broth along with a little sugar, salt and pepper to taste creates the simplest form of chili.
But you guys know I’m not here for simple. I’m here for all-the-way maximum goodness in a bowl. So I scanned several different chili recipes across the web, from established cooking publications to Betty Crocker to food bloggers big and small. The biggest inspiration for most of my chili comes from this recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. While I didn’t use all the same ingredients, I did nearly copy her suggestions regarding spices and seasonings, because once I read them and started imagining them all cooking up together over hours… I had to try it to see if it would be as magical as I was hoping.
Other than the variety of spices, one of the big flavor differentiators for this chili is the addition of a single ingredient from the start: bacon. This I also copied from the recipe linked above. Cooking up the beef, onions and peppers with the bacon before throwing them all in the crockpot produced one of the best smells in my kitchen. The smell reminded me of the massive Italian grinder that Jarod and I like to split sometimes from one of our favorite local pizza places. Mmmm. Bacon is a wonderful addition that I would have never thought of but boy does it make this chili flavorful.
The reason I’m calling this our “Wolters Family Chili” is because Jarod and I thought of a few ingredients of our own to add that make this recipe custom to us. Feel free to tweak the recipe any which way to make this your family’s way. I think some fun changes would be to add sausage with the beef or add mushrooms or other veggies.
This chili absolutely hits the spot and exceeded my expectations. The way the bacon breaks down in the crockpot, how the liquids all pull together to create a thick stew-like texture, the richness of the flavors with the herbs truly shining… it’s a beautiful thing. This chili is rich, savory, filling, and the opposite of boring.
Hoping this becomes a recipe we can come back to time and time again in the colder months when we just need a hearty warm meal that can cook low and slow all day long.
Did I miss any of your favorite chili ingredients? Do you have a go-to chili recipe? Let me know, and be sure to let me know if you try this recipe too!