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Root for familiar Super Bowl flavors in easy chili

The Super Bowl, like so many of the country’s other spectacles, “looks a little different” this year.

Among the most significant departures is no tailgating at the 55th event. That means no fan footage from the parking lot for viewers at home to emulate.

But those of us experiencing a virtual Super Bowl can at least relish some familiar flavors: chili perhaps being chief among beloved game day dishes.

I’ve never been one to engage in disputes over authentic chili versus Tex-Mex versus recipes with beans and tomatoes that are so hotly contested in some circles. If it tastes good, it tastes good, regardless if the meat is cubed or ground, or the chiles are whole or powdered. Just don’t put carrots, celery or green vegetables in my chili, and I’m likely on board.

The concept of chili does embrace special diets, however. Use any ground meat — lamb, turkey, chicken, bison or venison instead of beef. Or substitute a product like “Beyond” and “Impossible” meatless proteins. With the right seasonings, the dish still tastes great and can leapfrog onto any number of other foods, including fries and nachos.

This recipe from Tribune News Service advocates any or all of those variations and only takes about 30 minutes. Make it ahead of Sunday’s event, keep it in the refrigerator and just heat it in a slow cooker Sunday afternoon,

Easy Beef and Bean Chili

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound ground beef

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups beef or chicken stock (or water)

1 (15-ounce) can organic red kidney, pink or pinto beans, undrained

Shredded sharp cheddar or Colby jack cheese, sour cream, diced avocado or guacamole, diced red onion and thinly sliced scallions, for serving

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring to break it up, until no longer pink, for 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the chili powder, oregano, cumin and paprika and cook, stirring, until spices are toasted in fat, for about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over beef and cook, stirring, to cook off raw flavor of flour, for about 1 minute. Pour in the beans, liquid and all, then pour stock into can of beans to help loosen any stuck beans and rinse remaining liquid out of can; pour it into pan. Stir everything to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, for about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and season again with salt and pepper.

Serve chili in bowls and top with some of the cheese, a dollop of sour cream, avocado, red onion and scallions. Chili will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Makes 4 servings.


No-Bean chili: Omit beans and their liquid and double beef for a total of 2 pounds.

Vegan chili: Substitute 1 pound Beyond Meat for ground beef and substitute vegetable stock, mushroom broth or water for beef stock.

Tribune News Service photo