There are probably a million chili recipes out there, it isn’t a particularly difficult dish to make, and mine is even easier because it uses a store bought mix.
Packaged chili mix!? Sacrilege! Cheat! Unfollow! Unfollow!
Relax chili snobs, there is nothing wrong with pre-mixed seasoning packets. They stay fresh in their hermetically sealed pouches and stop you from replacing those jars of spices you never finish before they loose potency.
But, but, they’re full of chemicals and stuff I can’t pronounce!
No, they’re not. In addition to the spices the one I use (from an ancient Texas city) has nothing more than corn starch and powdered vegetable oil to thicken the chili, and Silicon Dioxide to keep it from clumping.
Aha! Silicon Dioxide! Bad chemicals!
It comes from beets, alfalfa, brown rice and oats.
Oh…. still… cheating!
Now, you may be thinking, if I’m using a packaged mix the instructions are printed right on it, why bother with this article. This is not for chili purists, but for people like me who want something more akin to a chili flavored stew. Nice big chunks of vegetables to add texture without changing the taste.
Chunky Chili with lentils
- 500g of ground beef
- 1 large can (796ml) of diced tomatoes (unseasoned)
- 1 can tomato sauce (398ml)
- 1 can of yellow lentils
- 1large yellow onion
- 3 stalks of celery
- package of your favorite chili seasoning
- In a good sized cooking pot, cook the ground beef over medium high heat. Add a few good dashes of tabasco. Don’t be scared to be generous, the cooking mellows out the heat and leaves a nice flavor behind.
- You really want brown the meat. I mean it, you want some nice crispy brown bits, not just grey meat. Don’t worry if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot (although if it turns black you’ve got the temp too high), we’ll take care of that shortly.
- Once there is little to no liquid left at the bottom of the pot, stir in the package of chili seasoning. I don’t know if you absolutely need to do it right at this point, but I’ve read that toasting spices releases their oils, so I like to add them now. Stir it in well and let it cook for a minute more. Take this time to open your cans.
- Pour in your can of tomato sauce and use the liquid to deglaze the bottom of your pot. Scrub the pot with a wooden spoon to get all those gorgeous bits of flavor.
- Add the diced tomatoes and stir again.
- Rinse the lentils well, then add them to the pot. Stir some more.
- Roughly chop the celery and onion. I like nice bite sized chunks. Ones that can be scooped up with tortilla chips easily are, coincidentally, just about the right size.
- Lower the heat to medium low and… you guessed it, stir it thoroughly.
- Stir every now and then to keep the bottom from sticking.
- It’s ready to eat in about 30 minutes, but if you like it thicker, less watery keep it on the stove until it reduces to how you like it.
- Don’t forget to stir occasionally
I know most recipes will use kidney beans, but I use lentils for two reasons. I don’t like the texture or flavor of kidney beans and the size of the lentils blends in nicely with the ground beef. Kids don’t even notice it’s there. The fact that lentils are super healthy is a nice bonus, but not my main concern given how much sour cream and cheese I tend to add 🙂