I ~think~ I finally got this recipe down to a science. My boyfriend's grandmother makes the best chili I have ever tasted. This is such a personal preference that I can't tell you if this will be your favorite recipe or not; just like I can't tell you if the hundred other variants out there will be something you like. Chili is something you have to experience, tweak, enjoy and then perfect for a lifetime. My goal as a thirty-something mom was to get this recipe down now for all future tailgating, bbqs, potlucks, etc. so that I could contribute something I was truly happy with. Plus, who doesn't want their son to be able to say "not as good as my mom's chili" someday?
The best way to describe this chili is smooth and flavorful, but not spicy. I'm pretty sure the white vinegar is the key to making the flavors pop even though I'm not sure on the mechanics of the thing.
Also - apologies for posting such a large quantity recipe, but this freezes really well and can be used for nachos, chili dogs, as well as eaten on its own. Grandma Ellen serves it with crackers, sliced cheese, and sweet and dill pickles. I suggest you do the same!
3 lbs lean (at least 85% lean) ground beef, browned and crumbled well
3 C. red kidney beans (about 2 cans)
1 large can tomato juice
scant 1/4 C. chili powder
1 tsp+ salt
1/4 tsp+ pepper
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp white vinegar
Crockpot Preparation: Combine all ingredients except sugar and white vinegar in the crockpot. Simmer on low about 24 hours, stirring occasionally. You will know when the chili is "done" when it achieves a gravy-like consistency. At the end of the cook time, add in sugar and dissolve well. Add more salt/pepper to taste. Just before serving or traveling with the dish, add the vinegar and stir in well.
Stove Top Preparation: Combine all ingredients except vinegar in the pot. Simmer on low for several hours or until the chili is the consistency of gravy. Add the vinegar just before serving.
I hope this adds a nice selection to your repertoire!
PS - For full disclosure, Grandma Ellen says she doesn't use sugar, but I'm also not sure what brand of tomato juice she's using. I added sugar while using the Great Value (WalMart) brand of canned tomato juice to make it match the flavor of her chili, more than following her strict recipe (which she didn't have for me anyway lol).