I have been making and modifying this chili for many years, and I would have to say that it is my most-requested recipe, and my only award-winner so far. You can do all sorts of things with it: just eat it, put it on tacos or burritos, put it on whole-grains, pasta, or potatoes, a bed of greens, or whatever you want. I have even used it as a layer in a lasagna! My favorite way to eat it is with a giant, green salad.
I always use dried beans from Rancho Gordo that I prepare myself, spices from Penzey’s, and fresh, organic ingredients where possible. I believe that these things make for a better final product, and it is our food, after all.
Makes about 6 quarts; halves or doubles well.
Use a large soup pot with a thick, heavy bottom to reduce the risk of scorching. Add the onions and bell peppers. Heat over medium low heat, sautéing the vegetables slowly until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic through BLA. Mix thoroughly and continue to sauté for another two minutes or so, until the spices are warmed and aromatic. Be careful not to burn the spices.
Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Use a little less liquid than you think you need, until the chili comes up to temperature. Bring to a weak simmer, stirring frequently to keep from scorching. Once it is thoroughly hot, you can cover it tightly and turn the heat off; it will continue to meld and improve for a couple of hours, and stay hot enough to eat. Taste, and adjust the seasonings as needed. It’s always better the next day.