simple chili

simple chili

Chili – not the fruit that grows on trees (yes, chilies are fruits because they have seeds, so are tomatoes). Chili – the stuff camping is made of (and s’mores too). The last time we (the hubs and I) made chili, we were out in Joshua Tree National Park camping with friends. We made the chili in two cast iron pots atop a campfire and campfire gas stove. We were feeding about 20+ people, so we needed that campfire stove. We served the chili with a hamburger bun (sloppy joes!!) and vinegar-based coleslaw. It was divine camping food, though the hubs said we probably felt it was the best chili because we were hungry – I beg to disagree, I thought it was good.

We also chose to cook using a simple chili recipe because we didn’t want to cart a tonne of ingredients through the wilderness. Fortunately, most chilli recipes are simple and this one from Pioneer Woman was the one we chose in the end.

I recently made it again and realized a few things – though PW asks you to drain off some of the fat from browning the beef, make sure you don’t drain all of it. Rather, keep most of it if possible. It’s the fat (++) that gives the chilli its rich flavor. You can also use small chunks of beef in place of ground beef. The hubs prefers chili that way as well. I also sauted some diced onion with the beef. You can also serve the chili with fresh diced onion.

Chili freezes well and as such is a great emergency meal. It’s also very versatile and can be eaten with rice, pasta, bread, chips or on it’s own. You can also serve chili alongside many different dishes like salad and slaw. If you don’t like beans, you can also omit them. The hubs still maintains that true chili should be made without beans.

Simple Chili

(taken from here)


  • 2 pounds ground beef, or beef chuck cut into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced (optional)
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
  • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • Shredded Cheddar, for serving
  • Chopped onions, for serving
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. Place the ground beef or chuck in a large pot and throw in the garlic and onions (if using). Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.
  2. After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and /or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor.
  3. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with shredded cheddar, chopped onions, tortilla chips, sour cream, and lime wedges, as desired.

One thought on “simple chili

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s