Boys, I am going to give you the most ridiculously easy and flexible recipe I know. It is definitely one of my top five favorite things to eat, and one of favorite things to make.

Chili is one of those things can cause fights during family gatherings. There is probably a different type of chili for each state in the Union. There are probably as many recipes as there are chili cooks. And each one is spirited and sure of their recipe’s superiority. I too am that way, though I love the absolute flexibility of the dish. Its original name, Chili con carne, means chili with meat.

There are people who think that the chili is only meat. Others like to add beans. Others even add stuff like corn or quash or chicken.

Here is my point, sons: take this base —protein, chili powder, tomatoes— and make it your own.

I love my chili, but I play with it. And I will show you how below.

Alberty’s Chili


- 1 lb. of ground chuck (or more if you want it meatier, or you can use whatever meat or protein you want…seriously, sometimes I use steamed lentils in place of the meat)
- 2 yellow onions, diced medium
- 4 cloves of garlic (or more), minced

- 1 28oz can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (but I’m just being particular about my canned tomatoes)
- 1 15oz can Muir Glen Tomato Sauce

- 5 cans of beans (I love beans in my chili. LOVE beans. I use a mix of black, pinto, kidney, great northerns, and cannellini), drained

- Chili powder, tons, but to taste (Here again, I use a variety. I use what is probably two tablespoons of generic chili powder over the whole of the dish. I augment that with about a tablespoon of Ancho chili powder as well as a couple of shakes of Allepo pepper.
- Ground cumin, a tablespoon or so
- Salt and Pepper
- Cholula Pepper Sauce (my favorite)

- 4 tbs white vinegar (this is my secret ingredient)


Use a crockpot. Take time to let the flavors meld, six hours or so.

Pour all the canned goods in the crockpot and set it on high.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the onions until they begin to soften and get translucent. Toss in the garlic and add some chili powder, cumin and salt. Sauté for about four minutes. Dump into crockpot.

Brown the meat in the same skillet. Add some chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. When browned sufficiently add to crockpot.

Add a ton of chili powder, some cumin and the vinegar. Turn the crock pot down to low and cook for six hours. Taste it often to adjust seasonings.


You can do anything to this that you can dream up. I usually like to add chorizo, but your mother doesn’t like chorizo, so I don’t. I also like to add jalapenos and dried ancho chiles, but you guys don’t like spicy food yet, so I don’t.

Sometimes I like to add cubed sweet potatoes or maybe go with all black beans. You can even add some cinnamon for that Cincinnati flair.

I could honestly probably enjoy a week of chili. Here are some ways to do that very thing.

Chili + melted American cheese slices + chips

Chili + spaghetti noodles + cheese (called Threeway, and you can add a little extra vinegar)

Chili + macaroni + cottage cheese

Chili + rice + broccoli

Chili + potatoes

Seriously, if you can make chili, you have one of the greatest basic meals in your back pocket. What you do with it is only bound by your imagination.