Almost 20 years ago my oldest son joined Boy Scouts. The year he was a Patrol Leader he wanted to learn how to cook outdoors. He and I started cooking one meal a week for the family. Almost all of them were cooked outside. This was before the interwebz took over our lives, so I was getting recipes from cookbooks.
This chili came from that time. It originally called for dry beans, soaked overnight, and half the meat was supposed to be steak, cut in tiny strips and then cooked. I made it that way once. Then I modified it to the following recipe to make it easier for a group of boys to make on a camp out. It became a family favorite and is my default starting recipe to make chili. You can adjust the spices, or add some extras. Make it mild or hot. It’s a great baseline.
My BSA Chili
4 cans pinto beans
1/2 stick butter or margarine
3 lbs hamburger
2 large onions
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 10 oz. can mixed tomatoes and green chilies
1 tablespoon brown sugar
pinch of dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon of crushed dried red peppers (the kind you shake on pizza)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 can of beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a large dutch oven, brown the meat, about 1 pound at a time until fully cooked, draining as necessary. Use margarine if necessary to grease the pot while cooking. When all the meat is cooked, set it aside. Chop the onions. Wipe out the pot, then melt enough margarine to keep the onions from sticking, and cook the onions until tender and slightly brown.
When the onions are done, add the meat back into the pot. Add the chili powder and mix it in. Add the tomatoes and the mixed tomatoes and chilies. Then add all the remaining ingredients except the beans.
Cover and heat until bubbling. Stir frequently. Cook about one hour, watching the liquid level. If it appears to be too dry, add water to maintain consistency. When it seems ready to eat, add the pinto beans and mix them in. When the beans are hot and the chili is bubbling again, it is ready to serve.
Serve with saltine crackers and shredded cheddar cheese.