The FireHouse Chili Series: Simple, Perfect Chili

I announced last weekend that we’re starting a FireHouse Chili Series here on the blog. I had some lovely submissions on our very first post and I thank each of you for stepping up to the plate and participating. We went with a very simple, very “what-you-expect-of-chili” chili recipe given to us via Chrystal from Teach, Bank, Blog.

I’m so glad that we went with this recipe this week. In fact, I’m glad. FireDad was glad. LittleBrother was thrilled. BigBrother might not have been thrilled exactly but he ate it so this meal can be counted as a total FireFamily win! Before I get into the recipe of it all, let me tell you funny story. LittleBrother calls any big beans, like the kidney beans in this recipe, eggs. We allow them because he thinks they are fun to eat. Whatever works to get your kids to eat, right? The child is also infatuated with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, just as BigBrother was at this age. As such, he then said the the “hung-ee ca-piwwar” was “in there” and he ate the faux-egg, complete with the munching sound from The Very Hungry Caterpillar on DVD. So, we have cannibalistic hungry caterpillar on our hands. He was amused (and amusing). Here’s a picture of LittleBrother showing us that he did, in fact, eat the egg that contained The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I Eat Him

Who knew supper time could be so amusing?

Simple Perfect Chili

So, yes, this recipe is called The Perfect Football Chili. I’m changing the name to Simple, Perfect Chili. If you want to get more specific, you could go with Simple, Perfect Chili for a Cool Night in October That is Rainy and Otherwise Dreary and You Have Kids That Also Need To Eat Whatever You’re Cooking So It Can Neither Be Too Hot or Too Bland. So, of course, Simple, Perfect Chili works as well. It does have a small, afterburn zing, though not too much, so it would also be appropriate for a fire department cook off.

Here are the ingredients:

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 chopped onion
16oz can of diced tomatoes
16 oz can of kidney beans
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
Pinch of Cumin, or to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (2-3 shakes, or to taste)
Splash of red wine or beer, whichever you have on hand

We did use ground beef. For our “to taste” spices, we did 3.5 teaspoons of chili powder, slightly more than a pinch of Cumin and 3-4(ish) shakes of Crushed Red Pepper. Now, on to making the chili!


1. Brown your meat and onions. If you have a family like mine, chop your onions very small using a vegetable chopper or the like. This should also help them cook quickly. (Onions are cooked when they are clear.)

2. Add your spices (including your sugar). Stir.

3. Add your tomato paste, tomatoes and kidney beans. Do not drain the liquid out of either. Stir.

4. Cover and simmer for at least one hour. Chrystal let us know that simmering brings out the juices in everything so that, even if it looks dry as you’re covering it and thinking, “Uh, what?,” there will be enough after it has cooked in itself for an hour.

Voila! Serve however you like your chili best. The boys each had some cheese sprinkled on top while I also added a dollop of sour cream. Here’s a (very.close) shot of my bowl. I meant to take more pictures but smelling this glorious concoction for an hour made us all starving-mad. I forgot!

My Chili

I will say that I didn’t read Chrystal’s note at the very end of her post until after I had everything simmering in the pot and rechecked the recipe. She said that she would double the recipe as they only had one bowl of leftovers when it was all said and done. Whoops. We had no leftovers (and I really wanted seconds) as there are four of us who ate everything in our bowls. And so, in the end, I agree: DOUBLE THIS RECIPE. If you’re cooking for a full shift at the fire department, consider tripling it. When it comes to spices and doubling, be sure to taste as you add more so that you don’t make something that is too hot for everyone to eat.

Some notes: this is a very thick chili using the recipe as it stands. That is, of course, how we prefer it in this house. Why? It makes it easy for LittleBrother, still mastering the fact that you simply can’t turn your spoon upside down and expect the food to make it to your mouth. I think it might have been less thick if I hadn’t, uhm, burned a little bit of this to the bottom of the pot. I thought I had the heat low enough as I was doing some work while it was simmering. Not quite low enough to not stir a few times here and there. So, if you want a more watery chili, be sure to keep stirring and not, uh, burn some.

We are definitely keeping this recipe in our chili arsenal. Go thank Chrystal for her lovely recipe and check out how she’s getting back to cooking after the birth of their adorable two month old son. (She’s way ahead of me. It took me a full year to get out of my cooking funk after LittleBrother was born!)

I already have a recipe for next week (in honor of Halloween and fall) but I do want/need recipes for the following week. Please leave your favorite chili recipes (or one you have wanted to try but are too scared to do so and therefore want to use my family as your chili-testing guinea pigs) as a comment to this post or utilize our contact form. Again, if we pick your recipe, we will link to your blog. Thank you all for participating and remember to tune in next weekend for a unique fall-themed chili recipe!


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