the best beef & bean chili

I'm a big chili fan, especially during the cold fall and winter months. I love all kinds of different versions of chili -- vegetarian bean-filled kinds, white chicken chili with green chilies, or versions with nontraditional meats like chorizo. However, there is something to be said for that good old all-American ground beef and bean chili, am I right? Ya know, the kind that you eat while watching a football game, topped with shredded cheese and sour cream, and served with cornbread and a cold beer? Yep, that's the one.

So that's what this chili is, but I promise it's anything but boring. I would even like to go ahead and call this THE BEST in the category of traditional beef and bean chili (at least... of the many I've tried!). It's based off of a classic Bon Appetit version, but I (obviously) chose to shake things up a bit. Specifically, I amped up the flavors with chipotle peppers in adobo, a bit of cocoa powder, two types of beans, and extra jalapenos. Mmmhm. Then obviously topped it with hand-grated cheddar cheese and a scoop of sour cream. Perfecto!

I wasn't planning on blogging this recipe (hence the single, sad picture) since it's such a "standard" dish, but it was just too good. It's one to keep coming back to!

By the way, this chile is a healthy dish, chock full of protein and fiber. I'd recommend using grass-fed beef and all-natural, high-quality ingredients. Then, you can feel good about enjoying a big bowl of it (EVEN IF you add some decadence on top... let's live a little!)

Disclaimer: This chili is pretty spicy. My husband and I both agreed that it is actually THE PERFECT amount of spiciness (and we take spiciness ratings pretty seriously). However, if you're sensitive... be careful. Take the seeds out of the jalapenos or chill with the chipotle peppers in adobo. Or don't, and sweat your way through it like me! That's the best way.

:) Enjoy!

Spicy Beef & Bean Chili
For 8-12 servings

-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-4 fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped (including seeds)
-6 garlic cloves, chopped
-3 or 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from canned), chopped
-2.25-2.5 lbs ground beef, 90% lean
-1/4 c. chili powder
-2 tbsp cumin
-1 tsp paprika
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tbsp cocoa powder
-1 tbsp sauce from the chipotle peppers in adobo
-1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
-1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained (but not rinsed)
-1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained (but not rinsed)
-2 to 4 cups beef stock or water (or a mix of the 2; use 2 cups for thicker/beefier chili, 4 cups for thinner/more "broth." I usually use a little over 2 cups because I like thicker chili)

Toppings (optional):
-Shredded cheese
-Sour cream
-Sliced green onions
-Crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips

-Heat oil in a very large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the jalapenos, garlic, and chipotle peppers and saute for 1 minute.
-Add the beef. Cook, breaking up and stirring meat regularly. Once completely browned, add the spices and cocoa powder. Mix to combine.
-Add the adobo sauce, tomatoes, (including juice), beans, and broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
-Reduce heat and let chili simmer for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

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