We have been using this chili (or earlier versions of it) for about ten years. This easy beef chili has a nice slow heat that warms everyone up.
By chili rules it isn’t a traditional recipe. It has beans, tomatoes, and vinegar. We don’t tend to cook for chili purists in our house, so this recipe does the trick. It is always a hit at our parties. We make this one for a pumpkin carving party in the Fall. It is also our go to choice for the Super Bowl. We prefer to cook it in cooler weather, but it works any time you have a crowd and people are in the mood for comfort food.
The prep isn’t hard other than browning the beef and softening up the onions. The rest of the ingredients are just poured into the pot. If you scale the recipe up you need a big pot, maybe three times the volume of the meat that you use. When I make this for 24 or more I use two pots to brown the meat and cook the onions. It just goes faster that way.
The quality of the beef and the fat content is important. We have used ground sirloin and ground chuck. Both give you a really nice texture. The 90% lean options are best. No extra work is required. If you use a higher fat variety you will need to drain off the extra fat. If the pot of chili cools down, it is pretty easy to remove. It forms a layer at the top.
You could use any sort of beans you prefer, but we typically pick dark read kidney beans. They stand out in the dish. Just make sure to rinse them thoroughly. You will get extra salt and starch that can throw off your recipe. Also some people say that the sauce in the cans of beans causes people to recreate the Blazing Saddles campfire scene.
Although this is an “easy” beef chili, we prefer to make it the day before an event. It really is better the second day. The flavors develop overnight. Making it a day early also means you can clean up the kitchen and relax on the day that guests arrive. It keeps warm on the stove (or in a slow cooker), so people can eat when they want.