I used to do the karaoke thing many years back, before I met and married my husband. The group of us, who usually met every Friday night at the local pizza joint, became more like a close-knit, if not musically challenged family. There was one lady, maybe in her 60s at the time, who everyone loved because of her excitement level for every brave soul who picked up the microphone and sang their favorite song. We called her the “Party Animal,” though her real name escapes me at the moment. The guy who ran the show, Cory, thought of her as his mom and looked after her as such. Actually we all adored her as a family member, and cheered her on while she sang “Rocky Top,” and not well either. But every week, we anticipated her rendition of “Rocky Top” as though it was the best song we’d all ever heard.
Outside of the environment of the lounge, we’d occasionally get together and do home parties where we’d all bring a dish to share and sing, sometimes terribly, sometimes better than we did at the bar. On one particular occasion, we all gathered to celebrate Party Animal’s birthday at someone’s home. This was especially exciting for me, as it was the first home party to which I had been invited. I arrived, as a bunch of others did, with a tape recorder (remember those??) prepared to record everyone’s performances for the evening, and also with a dish, most likely the Boston baked beans though I don’t remember exactly. One thing that I do remember is this fantastic, best-I’d-ever-eaten chili, made by one of the attendees named Kurt. He’d said it was his favorite dish to bring to gatherings such as that one, and I could definitely see why. It was different than any other chili I’d had before; filled to the brim with chunks of green and red peppers, Spanish onions, at least three different types of beans and that not-too-spicy finish. Kurt shared his recipe with us, and my family has been making it ever since. I am now going to share the recipe with you, my readers.
- 1-2 pounds ground beef. The original recipe called for 2 1/2 pounds of meat, but I find it does nicely with just a pound.
- 2 green bell peppers, cut into bite sized chunks
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 large Spanish onion, or 2 med sweet onions, cut into bite sized chunks
- 2 cans chili beans, reserve the juice
- 1 can dark red kidney beans, reserve the juice
- 1 can light red kidney beans, reserve the juice
- 1 packet mild chili seasoning
- 1 packet hot chili seasoning
- 1 can diced tomatoes, reserve the juice
- 1 8oz can tomato sauce, have an extra on hand if you like the chili a little juicier
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
In a dutch oven or stock pot, brown the ground beef until no longer pink. Remove from the pot and set aside. In the same pot, heat olive oil and saute the onion and peppers until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pot. Add all the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasoning packets; stir until everything is combined. Add the extra tomato sauce if the mixture looks a bit “dry.” Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for an hour to and hour and a half. Be prepared for wonderful aromas to emanate from your kitchen. Serve with crusty bread.
Of course, I couldn’t have made chili when it was colder outside. I had to wait until March, which is technically summer in west central Florida. If you make this recipe, please share your thoughts in the comments!