It is, you know.
Yes, Spring is wonderful, and if I lived in the Northern confines of these United States, I'm sure I would look forward to Spring and relish it for the rebirth that it brings. But lets face it. I live in South Texas. Winter here is rarely harsh, and never long. There are many years were it never falls below freezing. In fact, on more than one occasion I have successfully planted a vegetable garden in January. Spring is nice, but it's not that big a deal down here. Besides, Spring is short, and to me it has always been the harbinger of the blast furnace that is summer. I'll take Autumn, thank you very much.
Autumn in South Texas doesn't have the color of New England, or the rush of the harvest, rather, it is the time when the humid, overbearing heat of Summer gives way to dryer, crisper air. Granted, in early Autumn it can still be hot, but a 91 degree afternoon is a lot more bearable if you had a crisp 65 degree morning to go with it. The yards green back up after their late August wilt, fall gardens deliver tomatoes and peppers, and the farmers market starts to fill with winter squash.
Well, of course that means it's time for a hearty chili, right? Yes, it will be at least 2 months before there is even an outside chance of frost on the grass, but just knowing that the days are getting shorter and (relatively) cooler makes me reach for the soup pot. I assure you, it will get a workout between now and Easter.
The following recipe is roughly translated from a recipe I found on the Internet several years back. It was supposed to be a knock off of Wendy's chili. It's not really, but the boys love it, and it is much healthier than the Texas style chili I also make. But that's another post . . .
3 Bean Chili2 lbs. fresh ground chuck
1 46oz. can of tomato juice
1 10 oz. can tomato puree
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed*
1 large onion (at least 2 c.), chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely minced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 c finely minced carrot
Beef Broth (about two or three cups, see below)
2 Tab. Ketchup
1/2 cup chili powder, divided
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I use fresh, 3 cloves minced – see directions below)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sugar (yes, it needs it – shush!)
cayenne pepper to taste
In a pan, brown the ground chuck, season well with salt, pepper, half of the chili powder, and half of the cumin. When it is starting to brown, add half of the onion, half of the pepper, half of the garlic, and all of the celery and carrot. Slowly sauté until the beef is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the beef into the chili pot with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the fat behind. There should be very little liquid, just clear red fat. Add the rest of the seasoning, and the ketchup to the pot. Add beef broth until just covered. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. This step is essential if you use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. After it has simmered for 20 minutes, add the puree, the crushed tomatoes, the rest of the vegetables, and half of the can of tomato juice. Cover and bring to a bare simmer for 45 minutes. Add the beans and as much tomato juice as needed to bring it to the consistency you would like. It should be substantial, but a bit soupy. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
*I use Ranch Style Beans, undrained in place of pinto beans, but they are probably not available if you don’t live in
This is great with cornbread.