Chili is one of my favorite meals to make in the winter. I treat it as a melting pot for all my random parts of meat that I might have left over, which I believe makes it more fun to make, and ensures that you never have the same pot twice.
Start by sauteing onions in butter. Once they simmering in their own sugars and butter fat you can add mushrooms. Sometimes I feel like mushrooms in chili, other times I don’t. After these are cooked add your garlic.
You can’t cook garlic as long as onions or mushrooms. It burns much more easily and becomes bitter and rancid and will ruin your whole meal.
Cook garlic enough to force it to share its flavor, and then pour in your beer and let simmer. Basically any liquid will work here. You can use beer, stock, water, whatever you have. I usually use both beer and stock.
Now add in your tomato paste. It has the strongest and most intense flavor of tomatoes so I like to use it first to give a good foundational flavor.
While this is cooking I start to add herbs and spices. Salt and pepper, chili powder, sweet smoked paprika, cumin, all spice, celery seed, coriander, smoked adobo, tumeric, mustard, and oregano.
Now I start adding tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes to add the lighter flavors of the tomato. I also add whatever beans I have available. Black or pinto is usually what I have. I strain off the liquid from the can and rinse the beans thoroughly. I HATE the flavor of that liquid.
Get your meat out and start prepping it. I like to lightly cook my beef and then let it finish cooking in the soup. I feel like it makes the meet absorb more of the flavor. For steak, I’ll sear both sides, then chop it up and drop it in the chili. Depending how fatty hamburger is, I’ll render out the fat then put the meat in the soup. Chop some bacon and fry it to your desired crispness and add. If you like sausage or venison you can add that in too.
Keep flavoring to taste. I always seem to add more cumin and paprika towards the end.
Once everything is simmering together I get a big spoonful of creamy peanut butter and mix it in. Yes you read that correctly. Peanut Butter! It is packed with umami and blends in making the chili nice and creamy while blending the flavors. Just like an unknown artist, it makes a masterpiece, but doesn’t leave its mark. I swear, you can’t taste it at all.
Let cook on low for the rest of the afternoon, stirring occasionally.