Cooking played a vital role in my recovery from depression. As I tried more recipes and created some of my own, I felt mastery despite that I was and am not a fantastic cook. Even when I felt like my life was falling apart outside the kitchen, I knew I could succeed at planning a meal with limited resources that people might even like.
It all started with chili. Here was a one dish meal that was challenging to screw up. I experimented with the recipe my mom taught me in my teens. After a few attempts that were too fiery, I arrived at basic template for chili that could be embellished or scaled to suit the occasion.
After I had been stuck in moderate depression for years, my mom suggested that I try making chili for a 100 for my brother’s wedding reception. This was to be an informal gathering for family who hadn’t been able to attend my brother’s out of state wedding. For the first time in months, I did not agonize over choices or planning. I did not dread failure. I just did it. About half of people who tried my chili at that reception liked it enough to ask who made it. This mattered more to me than they could ever know.
I learned that if I acted without worrying whether anyone would like the result, my chances of a positive outcome were greater.
This evening I made my chili once again. It continues to evolve. This version can serve 10-12 people. I freeze cooled leftovers in sandwich bags. This chili keeps well frozen for two months.
Choosing no salt added versions of the canned tomatoes can help control the sodium level. If lower sodium plain beans are used, I recommend adding more chili powder to taste.
Big Batch Chili
- 3 lbs ground beef
- 2-16 oz cans mild or medium chili beans, undrained
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained (a 10 oz can is fine, too)
- 29 oz can crushed tomatoes (fire roasted crushed tomatoes work great, too)
- 3 T plus one teaspoon chili powder, divided
- 1/2 t black pepper
- 1 beef boullion cube (optional but tasty)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 t Sriracha sauce
Brown the ground beef with 1 teaspoon chili powder in Dutch oven. Drain well. Add beans, tomatoes, 3 T chili powder, pepper, water and Sriracha sauce. Bring the chili to a simmer and add the boullion cube if using. Simmer f0r at least 30 minutes. Enjoy.