chili con carne

I remember the first time I ever cooked a pot of chili. I came home from school one day to find a note on the kitchen counter from my mom, "Tommy, there's a pound of hamburger in the fridge, a bag of chilo-o mix on the counter.......etc" Other than cooking steaks, hot dogs and hamburgers on camping trips, that was the first real meal I ever prepared. My chili recipe has gone way beyond hamburger, onion, tomatoes, beans, and a bag of commercial chili seasoning since then. I hope you enjoy this recipe. It's been fine tuned for over 50 years now :-)

This recipe is large enough to feed 8-12 folks, depending on how cold it is outside and their appetites, and depending on whatever else you're grazing on, so adjust the recipe accordingly.

2 lbs. of stew beef (diced up chicken breast works well too)
6-8 (15 oz.) cans of beans (rinsed and drained), black or kidney, or both
4 (28 oz.) cans of tomatoes, peeled and whole or diced
1-2 onions, diced (medium white)
2 oz. Baker's unsweetened chocolate
4-5 garlic cloves, diced
1-2 Tbs. of olive oil
chili peppers to taste (jalapeños, chipotles, etc.)
cilantro, one or 2 good handfuls, chopped fine
ketchup, a real good squirt or 2 (if you prefer, the same result comes from a little sugar)
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook the onions and garlic for several minutes (until onions are translucent), then remove to a large stew pot. Brown the stew beef in the skillet, using the remnants of the oil, then throw that in the stew pot. Add the tomatoes, beans, cilantro, chocolate, ketchup, salt, and chiles to the stew pot and simmer for several hours. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the pot's bottom, or cook it in a crock-pot and just leave it alone for several hours. Serve in individual bowls, and top off with any of the following - cilantro, sour cream, green onions, cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and pico de gallo and/or guacamole.