Nat Your Average Chili – A delicious chili made with ground beef, beans, and loads of spices added in 2 phases with just the right amount of heat. Simple to make and pleasing to the palate. Created and perfected 25 years ago and finally sharing with you.
I have to admit, this is a hard one to let go. I have created and perfected this recipe over 25 years ago and have never shared it with anyone. Now I am sharing it with you. It’s simple, delicious, spectacular, smokey, and everyone loves it. It’s an old recipe that came about when I first tried chili when I was 16. Never had it before. I tried it at a childhood friend’s house. Her dad made a delicious chili and it was always a hit.
The recipe was secret as most chili recipes are. The only ingredient I knew was liquid smoke. It gave a wonderful smokey flavor and made his chili delicious. Well, I wasn’t going to get the recipe because it was a family thing. I know how that is and I respect it. It’s hard when you put a lot of time into something and just give it away. But, isn’t that what food bloggers do? In my case I was going to save it for a cookbook someday. I have struggled with this for a while. I have so many family recipes I want to share but have a hard time letting go. Why do I have this problem? I don’t know. I think it’s in the genes. My Italian side never shared the entire recipe with me. I had to be like a spy and snap a picture of the recipe left on the counter when they weren’t looking. Yes! I did do that. It was in Italian but I figured it out.
Once, my Italian great aunt told me the secret to her meatballs. She looked into my eyes – I mean the stare was inescapable – and with a stern low voice in Italian she said…
“non dire niente a nessuno” – Don’t tell anything to anyone…Think The Godfather.
I swear there was a chill in the air. She since passed away, but that voice is still in my head.
The secret to Nat Your Average Chili (see how I did that? Nat for Natalie) is adding the spices in 2 phases. First phase is sautéing the onions, browning the ground beef, adding the tomato base, liquid, and dry spices. Let it simmer, covered, on low for 60 – 90 minutes.
After that, add some brown sugar, more spices, and kidney beans. Yes, I include red kidney beans in this chili. The beans make it hearty and it resembled the chili I first tried many years ago. This is a very thick chili therefore, it doesn’t need a thickener like masa.
The other secret to Nat Your Average Chili is letting it sit overnight allowing all the flavors to meld. Letting it sit overnight isn’t a downside but an upside. This can be prepared ahead of time and slowly reheated when needed allowing you to enjoy your guests and the game and not slaving over a hot stove. This chili also freezes incredibly well allowing for a delicious meal anytime. I store in 1 quart containers and take out as needed.
This makes a lot of chili. I only make it in big batches – again because it freezes well, and because I usually make it for parties. I serve with sides of sour cream, cheddar cheese, and my delicious Guacamole, but let me tell you, it doesn’t need a thing. I have a beautiful Le Creuset dutch oven 7 1/4 quart that I use whenever I make this chili. I cook in it, place in fridge overnight, reheat next day, and serve all in the same pot. It’s not only beautiful, but functional and I’ve had this pan for over 20 years. If you don’t have one, use a heavy bottomed pot, but if you can, use an enameled cast iron dutch oven.
This chili is very simple. There’s no roasting chilis and you don’t have to buy fancy chilis and chop them all up. No, none of that. All you need is a can opener. I use mild diced green chilis which you can buy at your market. The rest of the flavor comes from a blend of spices.
- Chili powder
- Ground Cumin
- Granulated Garlic
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Apple cider vinegar
- Liquid smoke
- Brown sugar
- Ground peeled tomatoes
- Diced green chilis, mild
- Tomato paste
- Red kidney beans
- Sweet onions – I tend to use sweet onions when I cook. I usually dice my onions but in this case chopped is fine.
- I use 5 pounds (or so) of ground beef – at least 85% lean
A special thanks to my sister, Nilda, who came up with this clever name! Got my name in there!
I hope you try Nat Your Average Chili. It’s perfect for any party and a hit for game day. Can be prepared ahead allowing the flavors to meld and you more time to spend with your guests. Serve this chili with your favorite condiments and…Enjoy!
Life is too short for mediocre food.
This post contains affiliate links for the products I use in my kitchen.
Nat Your Average ChiliPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5 pounds ground beef
- 3 medium onions chopped - preferably sweet
- 1 ½ teaspoons granulated garlic
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 (28 ounce) can ground peeled tomatoes
- 2 6 ounce cans tomato paste
- 3 (4 - 4.25 ounce) cans diced mild green chilis
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke*
- 2 cups water
- In large stock pot, over medium high heat, brown ground beef until no longer pink and transfer beef using a slotted spoon or spider into a large bowl. Drain off any liquid and fat in pot.
- In same pot, heat oil over medium high heat and sauté onions until translucent - about 5 - 7 minutes.
- Add in the beef and remaining ingredients in phase 1. Simmer on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. (I sometimes simmer for 1½ hours or so)
- Stir in phase 2 ingredients and continue to simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally.
- You need to let this cool down and sit before serving. It gives the flavors a chance to meld. I have always made this chili ahead of time and reheated on low when ready to serve.
- The chili will thicken if refrigerated overnight although it should loosen up when reheated. Add water if it’s too thick. It depends on how long and what temperature when simmering. I add ½ cup at a time.
- This freezes very well. I freeze in 1 quart portions and have chili ready whenever I want it.
- Serve with all your favorite trimmings - sour cream, cheddar cheese, Guacamole, and whatever pleases you. Enjoy!