Basic Chili


Welcome ladies and gents to the second installment of FoodinMind. For the immediate future, I will continue to import past blog entries that were posted on under the “The Ghetto Cook” moniker.

In this installment I will be showing you how to make chili, cheapass style. What makes it so cheapass? Well, the main thing is that it features no beef. That’s right, no fucking beef 😦 But still, I will try to aim for the best tasting chili possible with what I have on hand.

First, let’s talk about what the important qualities of a good chili are. I’m no chili expert, but I do have an ideal chili that I try to aim for. A good chili should be a thick stew chock full of ingredients. It should have a rich taste and a complex spiciness that lingers pleasantly in the mouth.

To accomplish these ends, the key ingredients should be a source of rich flavor (usually provided by meat) and a good blend of spices (usually provided by… spices). Below, you will find the walkthrough on how I made my chili, as well as commentary on how a proper chili could be made with better resources. Also, if you are planning to make this dish, you will need [b]3 hours[/b] of time. Most of it won’t be spent in front of the stove, but still.


what a pound of hydrated pinto beans look like
Looking significantly less than impressive
1 lb Pinto beans*
Ground chicken breasts**
Green beans***
Tomatoes, chopped
Sriracha sauce****
Vegetable Oil

*That’s right, beans. They are the base of this dish. You can also use black beans if you like them better. Soak overnight in a container with the water level about 2x what the dried beans level is.

**Really, the optimum is beef, diced into small pieces. Ground also works. The breasts here are the meat removed from the bones in the previous installment, ground by yours truly# with a knife and marinated overnight in salt, pepper, and sriracha sauce. The important thing to note here is that chicken breast meat is heavily suboptimal for this type of dish. Breast meat is extremely easy to overcook, not to mention not the most flavorful.

# If you want to ground your own meat, all you have to do is cut the meat into 1 inch pieces, group them 1 layer thick in the middle of the cutting board, then rapidly and methodically chop the meat from one direction to the next and switching directions. Every minute or so fold the meat over itself and repeat chopping. Don’t worry if your chops do not cut all the way through, it’s quantity that counts and not quality. 4-5 minutes will do, but the more you chop, the finer the ground. Best to attempt this on the floor, with newspapers spread. Also if you are in an apartment, when neighbors aren’t home.

***Not a typical ingredient in chili, I just had these on hand and they were about to go bad. Color clashes with the dish, but texture does not.

****Generally a blend of whatever spicy powders/pastes you have on hand works best. This is all I had, so I crossed my fingers and hoped it can pull through.

*****This is my err, “special weapon”. Basically I used a beef flavored packet from a pack of ramen. It will give the chicken a helping hand in providing a rich meaty flavor. Just buy ramen and save the packets to cook with, they are like the poor man’s bouillon. If you are already using beef and/or have more spices on hand than just salt, pepper, and one source of spiciness, this is NOT required.

The Process

It all starts with the beans. The night before cooking starts, rinse and soak 1 pound of pinto beans in a plastic container.

Once the beans are re-hydrated, rinse them one more time to get rid of the bean juice and pour them into a large pot, with just slightly more than enough water to cover all the beans, like this:

The Indians were definitely onto something when they started cultivating this

Bring the beans to a boil, and then turn the heat down low to simmer. I seasoned the beans right at the beginning with salt, pepper, and the bouillon (French for beef flavored ramen packet). At this point you can pretty much go away, coming back to stir every 20-30 minutes. If the beans are getting a bit dry add just enough water to cover them again. At the end of 2 hours, they should be tender and smooth to taste.

yup, after 2 hours they're still beans

[b]IMPORTANT[/b]: do NOT add any more water to this pot than is shown, or add water to anything else. That is the key to making a rich, thick chili.

Now the real cooking begins. Have all the rest of your meats and vegetables prepped. You will need a second pot and a saucepan (whoops, if you don’t have those hopefully you haven’t been following along in real life up to now) for the next part. Here’s how it’s going to go down:

Exhibit A
you probably felt like farting just looking at this, didn't you

Onions go into the main pot. This is a personally preference, as I like my onions completely disintegrated into the stew at the end. 1 hour of stewing will make onions completely disappear texture wise, leaving their flavor. If you like to chomp on your onions, delay this move.

Exhibit B
you say tomato, I say tomato

Tomatoes go into a saucepan with some oil and some salt. The point of this is to break the tomatoes down into a sauce which will later permeate the stew. This will take about 15-20 minutes at medium heat.

Exhibit C
 I wonder what a chicken would think if it sees another chicken's boobs ground up like this

This part is tricky with chicken breast meat. What you want to do is cook it with a little vegetable oil at medium heat until just when you stop seeing any pink. This will mean the meat is almost done, but not quite. Remove it from heat and let it sit. It will be the last thing to go into the chili, just before it is done. It should now look something like this

Shitty camera plus steam, if you were wondering how I achieved this unique effect

If you are using a better meat like beef or pork, what you want to do is brown the meat on all sides and dump it into the main pot as soon as the meat is browned, which will probably be 10 minutes after the beans have reached the 2 hour mark.

Now, you should have all three parts of the dish going on at once. If you’ve played any Starcraft at all and your APM is above 25, this multitasking should not be a problem. Once the tomatoes look like this

 all I see is blood, blood everywhere

Dump this into the main pot. You should also put the green beans into the pot at this moment in time, and they will be perfectly done at the end. Cook for about 15-20 more minutes. The stew is now almost done. Add the chicken, stir a few times, then turn the heat off. You can serve it as is, with cheese grated on top, over rice, with cornbread, or however you like.

The Result

stylishly cheapass

3.5 / 5 Well, I’ve made better chili than this. Sriracha alone isn’t nearly enough to pull a chili through, nor is the chicken breast meat. The spiciness falls flat and the aftertaste is one dimensional. But if you’ve got beef and a bunch of spices you can easily make a 5/5 using the method entailed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walkthrough :).

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1 Comment

  1. Corn Bread and Ratatouille « Food in Mind

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