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The Plaza Chili recipe is so easy that you’ll probably have the entire thing memorized after the first time you cook it. Honestly. There are far more elaborate and time consuming recipes out there to get a more authentic bowl of Texas Red. I don’t need that right now. What I need is something delicious I can make tonight without spending hours in the kitchen. The Plaza Chili Recipe is that solution.
Christmas Chili ???
We eat chili in our house on a near weekly basis. It is simple, easy, and great for leftovers. Most people will understand that I imagine. People tend to give me awkward stares when I tell them our family tradition is to eat chili on Christmas eve. I really don’t know why that is the case but my dad would always have a huge pot simmering away on Christmas eve.
Much to mom’s dismay, my dad would insist we ate chili that night because he wanted the pews in church to “sing” as much as the congregation. Maybe I should make that dad-joke part of the tradition too, lol. We even serve our chili to friends at the our annual Christmas party and everyone seems like enjoy it.
Every family has their own recipes and traditions. Some of them are completely reasonable like a delicious bowl of chili each Christmas Eve. Some of them are downright bizarre like pairing your chili with cinnamon rolls. I’ve heard of topping chili with cheese, cilantro, sour cream, tortilla chips, Fritos, crackers, and even cornbread. Dipping a cinnamon roll into my chili is not something that even made the radar honestly. My twitter friends assure me it is a totally real thing though.
Quick, Easy Chili
Onion, peppers, 1 can of tomatoes, 3 cans of beans, and some spices. That is it… that is the recipe formula. As long as you keep the rough proportions you can mix and match just about anything in there. Get the can of diced tomatoes with habanero peppers if you hate your taste buds. Go for all black beans this time because that is what is left in the pantry. It all works.
Don’t let the simple nature of this recipe fool you though. I actually won a local chili cook off with this recipe once because it is surprisingly good. The recipe is a really solid base that can be extended in infinite directions depending on how much extra time you have or extra food budget. The recipe below is the base level vegetarian chili with moderate spice just waiting for extensions.
If you like your chili spicier then ramp up the jalapeno count or chili powder (or add cayenne pepper). For chili a bit milder you can swap the jalapeno for a poblano pepper. Add another can of tomatoes if you like it soupier or more beans for a chunkier soup.
Adding meat can really amp up this recipe if you aren’t vegetarian. I like to use a mix of ground sausage meat and ground sirloin for a solid mix of texture and flavor. Feel free to add chicken, turkey, beef, or whatever you already have in the fridge. The vegetarian “beef” crumbles you see in the frozen section of the grocery store are a solid addition as well.
Plaza chili recipe notes
Sure, you can add or subtract any number of ingredients to alter this stellar base chili recipe as noted above. You can also add in a few steps before or after to really take it to the next level if you have the time.
First, you could toss the veggies in a little olive oil and roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Once they cool down you can dice them up and add them to the pot like before. The oven caramelizes the exteriors and concentrates the flavor to add a nice roasted note to the finished dish. As a bonus, roasted jalapenos are generally less spicy than their raw counterparts.
Second, you could put the entire pot of finished chili in an oven set to 350 degrees and let it cook some more in there. The oven caramelizes the sugars in the tomato sauce to develop a much deeper flavor profile. Plus, it is a super easy way to keep it warm if you want to cook it a little further out from dinner time.
Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands and cutting board after handling the jalapenos. Don’t make the mistake of touching your face or eyes before doing so. You will immediately regret it and definitely remember for next time. The capsaicin (spicy chemical in peppers) is kind of oily and will get on anything you use. It isn’t water soluble either so make sure you use soap.
Total Cost = $6
I double checked with my local grocery store. The veggies, 1 can of tomatoes, and 3 cans of beans with cilantro comes out to about $6 total. For four servings (at least) that means it costs about $1.50 a person to enjoy this meal. The toppings are a bit extra obviously but you might already have most of those in your fridge for other recipes.
If you add in the meat it averages about $5 more for a total of $11 a pot. Even with the meat the dish is around the $2.50 per person metric so many frugal eaters shoot for.
Plaza Chili Recipe
- 2 onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can red beans
- 1 can pinto beans
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- cilantro, chopped
- sour cream
- shredded cheese
- tortillas or tortilla chips
- cinnamon rolls (for the bizarre people on twitter)
Prep the veggies
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pot on the stove over medium heat
- Dice up all of the vegetables
Cook the veggies
- Add the veggies to the hot oil, sprinkle on a pinch of salt, and stir
- (OPTIONAL: this is where you'd add the meat if desired)
- Once the onions and peppers soften, toss in the spices and cook for 1 min
Add the canned goods
- Crack open the 4 cans and toss them in the pot, stir to combine
- Cook at a simmer for 10 minutes at least so flavors mingle
- Serve in a bowl with any of the optional toppings
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