It was a Tuesday just like today. Chilly out, too. Then, just like now, I shed some tears making dinner, and it wasn’t from chopping the onions.
Because I was on bed rest during my pregnancy, my making the chili I’d been dreaming of all day was not going to happen (by my hands anyway). Thankfully my obliging husband brought in a chair for me to sit in, with an ottoman on which to prop up my feet. The only way this dinner was going to be completed was with me resting, while he did as I directed. (He opened restaurants around the world for 15 years, so I was confident in his abilities!)
Earlier that day he’d stopped by the store to get all the ingredients, so everything would be fresh. While I sat there feeling totally useless, tears welling up in my eyes (I blame the hormones for the emotions that overshadowed the fact that I was growing a human!), my husband chopped and mixed and stirred. The SMELL of that chili cooking started to make me smile, and on this particular night when I still had a touch over 5 weeks to go, it smelled especially heavenly. I let the joy of the meal prep, even by proxy, lift me from the funk of just “laying there.”
Usually we make the chili on one day and serve it the next, or at the very least cook it in the morning so it can simmer all day long. On this night, though, everyone in the family was impatient so we pressed on.
Two Too Good Chili is my favorite chili ever. Yes, I’ve had some amazing chili from restaurants, at cook-offs, at friends’ houses, etc. But this is my favorite. It took a lot of testing to get it “just right.” I originally named it “Two Too” good because of the two meats, two peppers, two of a LOT of the ingredients. After that evening, though, it would be renamed (in our house, anyway) Daniel’s chili.
We had finished eating our favorite bowl of cold-night goodness and I moved to the living room to watch an Orlando Magic game on T.V I cheered as best I could from my recliner. Then, with the win in the bag and full and very happy belly, I retired to my room where I started to read. It was so quiet and peaceful. And then…
The next few hours saw a flurry of activity at our house. I thought I’d have time to wash my hospital clothes and my son’s homecoming attire, but the contractions that started 18 minutes apart quickly escalated to 2. The best laid plans….
Long story short: at 3:55 a.m. our precious son was born, spent chili bowls still in the sink as we didn’t have time to tend to that as well as getting my about-to-pop-self to the hospital.
I type this as I remember that late night/early morning. I smell Daniel’s Chili simmering on the stove. I ‘m scrolling through all the photos of that wonderful night, too. I can’t believe it’s been 9 years.
On this chilly week, I hope you’ll think of happy miracles in your life too, and enjoy his Too, Two Good Chili. Maybe you’ll cry as you make it, too… and it won’t be the onions.
Two Too Good Chili, a.k.a. “Daniel’s Chili”
1 lb coarsely ground chuck
1 pound coarsely ground pork*
2 large white onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 peppers: One red, one green, cut to ½-in dice
2 c beef stock
2 28-oz can plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed, with juices
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos**
¼ cup chili powder more or less, depending on your family’s heat tolerance
2 TBS brown sugar
2 tsp cumin
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne
1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can kidney beans beans, rinsed and drained
*Sometimes I braise beef ribs and use the meat for a second meat texture, if not a different meat itself.
**Remove the seeds if you want less heat
Shredded cheddar cheese
- In large pot, cook meats 8 to 10 minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 more minutes.
- Add peppers, stock, tomatoes w/juices, paste, and spices to the meat mixture. Cook uncovered stirring occasionally, 30 minutes at least; all day if you have time.
- Ten minutes before serving, add beans and cook to warm through. Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream and cheese.