Steve is a party guy. He doesn’t only attend parties. He throws parties. Not like Hollywood, but a houseful of guests, all of them our good friends. This time there were only 20 of us. We were expecting possibly 25, so this is the number I planned to feed.
The menu, besides chili con carne, included a salad bar, which I also prepared. If you think I am used to cooking for a lot of people, well, you are wrong. I cook for two, Steve and me. When I had children living at home, I cooked for four, and I had help. I had help for this project, too, and I was grateful for it. This is is how we cooked chili this time.
First, we shopped for ingredients. We bought 6 pounds of ground beef, several cans of diced tomatoes, some plain and some hot (fire roasted diced tomatoes), several cans of tomato sauce, a few cans of tomato paste, a few cans each of chile beans and black beans, a few cans of beef broth, and two huge onions. I had plenty of garlic cloves on hand, as well as the spices, chili powder, dried basil leaves, oregano leaves, ground red pepper, and one cinnamon stick.
When it was time to cook, I sauteed the onions and garlic. Steve helped me by browning the ground beef and smashing it over and over again with a fork to make it as finely chopped as possible. This made a wonderful difference in texture. After this was accomplished, we added the cans of diced tomatoes, all of them, the beef broth, and the tomato sauce and paste. Was it all going to be enough? The pan was full up to about three inches from the top. It was ENOUGH!
At last, it was time to say, “WHAT’S MISSING?” I added my special ingredients to refine the taste. I learned from my grandmother to add a little apple cider vinegar to tomato dishes, so this I did next. Then, my next adjustment came as a couple of tablespoons of sweet and hot pepper jelly. What’s missing, we asked again? Ah ha! I knew just what to toss into this simmering pot of chili con carne. Several good splashes of Tabasco sauce! Perfect!
The party was a success. There was lots of food, desserts and various other dishes brought by our friends. After eating, the guys played pool, and the ladies played air hockey and visited with one another. A good time was had by all.
I’d love to hear about the ingredients you put in your chili. There are probably as many chili recipes as there are families. We all have our versions. Steve and I like the chili at Wendy’s. How is that for easy to please? We like it a lot.