Dumb Runner Review: My Favorite Chili Recipe

Mark Remy

Mark Remy

As I noted in a recent Dumb Runner Newsletter, chili is good. Easy-to-make chili is even better. That is why I am a fan of this particular version.

I found this recipe, years ago, via something called the Rodale Recipe Finder. Despite my efforts, I couldn't find it there now. For that matter, I couldn't find the Rodale Recipe Finder. Or any published version of a "Red Zone Chili" that matches this recipe. So I am reprinting it here. 

Here is why I love this recipe:

  • It's delicious. Or close enough for my unsophisticated palate.
  • It's dead simple. A monkey could execute this recipe, or try to, and produce some pretty good chili.
  • It's quick. Takes about one hour, start to finish. But you can let it simmer indefinitely.
  • There's wiggle room. For instance, it doesn't dictate an exact amount of onion. It calls for "1 large (chopped) onion." Sure, it also says that will be "about 1  1/4 cups." But that's just a guess on the recipe's part. The recipe doesn't give a shit. Just buy a "large" onion. What does large mean, you ask? It means large! Stop agonizing and just grab a f***ing onion! That is what this recipe would say, if it could talk.
  • Also, and this is more of a side note: I rarely use 2 pounds of ground beef. Usually I use 1 or 1 1/2 pounds, and it turns out fine. (If you don't eat meat, experiment with substitutions.)
  • I sort of love how it calls for 1 teaspoon each of cumin, salt, and black pepper. I just hold that teaspoon out and fill it with each of those things then dump 'em in, in rapid succession. It's highly satisfying.

Here is the recipe.

Red Zone Chili

2 pound lean ground beef
28-oz can salt-free crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup chili powder
2 16-oz can red kidney beans, drained
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large chopped onion (about 1  1/4 cups)
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until tender.  Add the ground beef and brown for 8 to 10 minutes, or no pink remains; drain off excess liquid. Dump in the remaining ingredients; mix well. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 10.

How many calories per serving? How many grams of carbs? Of protein? I don't know, and I don't care. It's good and I like it.

Pair it with beer. Doesn't matter what kind. The last time I made it, I went with a big bottle of Cinder Cone Red Ale, by Deschutes Brewery:

Mark Remy

Mark Remy

Two thumbs up for this chili. Highly recommended.