Look, I know the Chili Has No Beans(tm) debate, and it has its good points - but when you're stretching a tight budget, beans are a whole lot cheaper than meat, and provide their own tastiness in the meal. When I feel flush in the cash reserves and optimistic about the economy, I'll make a no-bean chili (see me after November 2012, and I'll still put you off for a few months until we can judge someone by the content of their character, and their actions.)
Until then, Cheerfully Heresy Chili
1 pound ground beef
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 Tablespoon olive oil (optional if your ground beef is fatty)
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes with jalepenos
1 can diced tomatoes (plain)
2 cups red wine
1/2 teaspoon white sugar, if the wine is dry
1 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed - or 1 cup dry beans, soaked and cooked
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed - or one cup dry beans, soaked and cooked
The night or day before, soak the kidney and black beans in about 6 cups water. (Soak at least 6-8 hours). Drain, rinse, put in a pot with at least 6 cups water, NO SALT. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for roughly an hour - may take an hour and a half for kidney beans. Or drain and rinse a can each. More expensive by far, but far less time-consuming.
Saute the onions and burger. When the burger is browned, add the garlic and cumin seeds, and saute until the garlic's browned, too - doesn't take long. Add the spice mix and stir for a few seconds, until everything is coated. (If you don't have cumin seeds, add a teaspoon of ground cumin here).
Add the can of tomato paste, and stir it in. Stuff should be sticking to the bottom of the pan - dump in the undrained cans of diced tomatoes, and deglaze (scrape the tasty browned bits off the pan bottom) with the juices. Add in the wine, stirring well. If cooking with something sweet, you'll have enough sugar to cut the tomato acidity - if dry, add the sugar.
Stir some more, add beans, stir a little more. When it starts to simmer, turn the heat to low, and put a lid on so it keeps cooking but doesn't splatter. Stir every now and then, but mostly let it simmer to itself for at least twenty minutes. Which, coincidentally, is the amount of time it takes for rice to cook, and allows for time to make the salad and set the table, too!
Like a good tomato sauce, it'll get better and better as you let it simmer and blend - if you want to let it reach proportions of awesomeness, make this before work (beware tomato sauce splatters!), stick it in a crockpot on low, and let it create food alchemy all day.
Serves 6, when served with rice/pasta/potato, and salad - garnishes might include, but are not limited to, a little shredded cheddar, sour cream (or Greek yogurt, for a healthier substitute), or salsa.