Chop, mince or dice
all the vegetables just before you begin. In a large skillet,
break up the ground round and fry in a couple tbsp. oil on
medium to medium low until lightly and evenly browned. Saute
the onions, garlic, and diced bell peppers in margarine or
oil in a separate skillet at the same time. I preferred to
sauté the vegetables separately for browning and grease
control. You don't want the hamburger crumbly, and you don't
want the veggies soaking up fat from the beef (with lean beef
there will be nothing to pour off).
Into your large stock kettle (5 - 6 quart size), pour the drained
(not rinsed) kidney beans, and the diced tomatoes. Start heating
on medium low, and stir gently into this the cooked ground round,
onions, garlic and peppers. Cover with a proper tight lid, stir
occasionally and gently with a large wooden spoon to make sure
nothing sticks at all, and keep covered to control liquid loss
through steam and condensation. (You only have "just the
right amount" of liquid to begin with, so conserve it).
Monitor the burner and kettle temperatures until the mixture
has stabilized at a very low simmer. Keep it there. Keep it covered.
You will see that the veggies have added enough liquid that it
should never be necessary to add any water or other liquids.
While doing this, saute the mushrooms in butter or margarine
and add them to the stock.
Now, gently stir in 1 tbsp chili power (i.e., 1/2 of the amount
in the seasonings list), and also add all of the other seasonings.
Re-cover and simmer at least 3 hours, checking and stirring only
every once in a while. If you've managed your kettle properly,
nothing will burn or stick, you won't have to add "a little" water,
which you always end up having to boil off later anyway.
Try to resist the temptation to meddle with the mixture until
at least 3 hours, at which point you'll find and remove the
spent whole bay leave(s). The 1 tbsp. chili powder previously
added, with the other spices, will make this mix "borderline
hot" to some palates on the second day, so add the other
1 tbsp. of chili powder with caution. After 15 more minutes
or so, you can tell how it is going to taste, and it will be
ready to serve almost any time in the next few hours.
I left my 'FBY' Chili just like that, and I think you and
your guests or family will agree it is remarkable. Whether
you like it hot 'n' spicy, or prefer something that doesn't
send you reaching again and again for the water pitcher and
a clean dry hanky, you'll find there is a flavor in this mix
You are probably wondering what the 'F' stands for in 'FBY'.
I prefer to think it probably is a standard abbreviation for "fine",
or some other chili chef's term.
Chili always does well topped with coarse grated cheeses and
sliced onions stirred into the individual servings at the last
possible second. I would suggest sliced purple onions for toppings.
If you use cheddar cheese, the perennial standby, by all means
use the best, fresh-grated, medium or sharp brick cheese. This
chili would do well topped with a more delicate white cheese,
including Monterey jack, swiss, or mozzarella.
If you like it hot 'n spicy, you are not going to be able
to leave this one alone at three hours, are you? Start with
extra garlic - just a clove or two more - and perhaps a bunch
of diced green onions, tops and all. Then, try this: select
one, two, or three very large, fresh, whole green chilies in
the produce section while you are shopping for the ingredients
which the normal folks are going to eat. I would definitely
start with just one. Flash-fry these in 1/4 cup oil at medium
to high heat in a skillet until just the skins are blackened.
Peel off and discard the skins. Add one, chopped, to the stock
at the three-hour point -- and wait. You can never tell with
these things. If you decide against adding the second and third
fresh fried chilies, and I think you will, you can always just
bury them in the back yard when no one is looking.