It is already March, but still quite chilly here in Wisconsin, with a few stubborn patches of snow still left on the ground. I thought it was the perfect weather for a great big batch of chili.
As I have mentioned before, my husband and I are fortunate enough to have a family farm and access to quality meat and eggs. The beef that I used in this recipe came from cattle raised on our family farm, with lots of pasture and without any hormones or antibiotics. I also use pork sausage and bacon in my chili, however, and since we do not raise pigs, we needed to find an alternate source. Our second best option? The local meat market. We know that their product is local, fresh, and not from a CAFO. My wonderful parents thought up the most fantastic birthday present for my husband this past fall: a half of a pig from our local meat market. As you can see, he was very happy. And yes, that is a large tub of lard that he is carrying. And yes, we use it in our cooking. Even the dog is trying to get a taste of it; she knows what good food looks like!
I have a terrible habit when cooking of never following recipes, and never measuring ingredients. Chili is a popular dish at our house, but Nick comments that every time I make a batch, it tastes a little bit different. This was the very first time I actually measured and wrote down the amount of spices I used (just for you!). Nick declared that this was one of the tastiest pots I have made. My secret is in the quality meat, of course, but also in the spices. This chili has plenty of kick to it, but the cocoa and cinnamon especially give it a warm feel, and the cloves and cardamom add a slightly more exotic depth.
Here are the ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb pork sausage
1 lb bacon (nitrate-free, if you so desire)
1 large, or 2 small, onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
3 14oz cans tomatoes (or about 5 cups fresh chopped, if they are in season)
1 T cocoa powder
3 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 t chili powder
2 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 t ginger
1 t garlic powder
1 t cayenne
1 t red pepper
½ t cloves
½ t cardamom
Begin by chopping up your bacon slices into bite-sized pieces. Fry them in a skillet until the fat is only partially rendered, then place into a pot large enough to hold the entire batch of chili. Leave the bacon fat in your skillet and add the chopped onion and minced garlic, sautéing until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add them to your chili pot, then cook the sausage and ground beef in batches. Add the rest of the meat, tomatoes, and spice mixture to your pot, bring to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down and simmer as long as you can stand (my upper limit is about an hour). Then dig in, and if you are like Nick, top your bowl with a handful of shredded cheddar cheese. Refrigerate the leftovers and enjoy easy lunches for the next few days.