Weeknight Cooking

Sheri's Shortcut Chili

January  9, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves a family
Author Notes

This is the chili my mom makes all the time with stuff she stockpiles in her pantry, like she’s always ready for chili duty: any sort of canned tomato, salsa, hot sauce, and ketchup. Plus beans, meat, spices, and garlic and onions. That’s it. She says the ketchup makes the chili have the right consistency no matter how little time you have to simmer it, and the salsa and hot sauce bring the heat and smoke in a form that you can purchase nearly anywhere. Regardless of the reasoning, you will always, always, find a container of this chili in my freezer. —Ali Slagle

What You'll Need
  • Olive oil, to coat the pan
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken (or beef, or pork)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 16-ounce can any kind of bean (garbanzo or kidney in my house), drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces jarred salsa (I like Trader Joe's Salsa Autentica; Mom likes Pace)
  • one 28-ounce (or thereabout) can/jar/carton of your favorite tomato stuff (chopped, crushed, sauce, strained, diced))
  • a bunch of dashes of your favorite hot sauce (or around a tablespoon)
  • 2 long squirts of ketchup (maybe around 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, or more to taste
  1. Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven or other large pot with olive oil and heat over medium. Once the oil is shimmering, sauté the garlic and onion in the oil until they're soft and translucent.
  2. Add ground meat, sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and cumin, and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Now dump in the beans, salsa, and tomato. Add the hot sauce and ketchup, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced and the consistency of chili, minimum 30 minutes. If it looks too thick, add some water. Taste every so often and adjust the amount of heat, salt, and spices accordingly.
  4. Once it's done, throw in the cilantro. This chili will keep for a week of meals (with scrambled eggs for breakfast).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Brian Cotner
    Brian Cotner
  • Ali Slagle
    Ali Slagle
  • Smaug
  • Deborah

7 Reviews

Deborah August 22, 2020
I made this chili yesterday, prior to reading this article. The differences are: my spice additions were harissa, spanish paparika, coriander, liquid smoke, sofrito and recaito. I used 80/20 ground pork shoulder. Excellent!
Jean G. February 1, 2017
Smaug, agree about the chilis, But for me the worst part is getting the damned blender out of its spot in a lower cabinet - the damned thing is heavy! I do love pulverizing the soaked chilis and cooking them in hot oil, where they smell heavenly. As for "squirts of ketchup"? No.
Brian C. January 18, 2017
Where's the chili powder?
Ali S. January 18, 2017
You can completely add some in when you add the cumin—I usually do that, but wanted to keep true to my mom's recipe (she doesn't add chili powder).
Smaug January 24, 2017
People making chili (which this is not, by any sensible definition) rarely use chili powder. It usually contains some of the Mexican chiles which define chili (and in which this recipe is plentifully lacking ), but in small quantities and mixed with ingredients best added separately- principally cumin and oregano, maybe a little allspice or something of the sort- and ingredients best skipped entirely, such as powdered garlic and onion.
Brian C. January 25, 2017
Smaug, I enjoyed your comment, and I appreciate folks who care enough about chili to custom grind their anchos, guajillos, pasillas, etc. But those folks are rare and precious, and I am not sure they are truer in spirit than the vast majority who use the mix. Chili con carne was born in Texas in the 1850s, and packaged chili powder was invented there in the 1880s. Grinding the chilis and creating the spice mix is/was difficult and time-consuming, and there would be a lot fewer hot and delicious pots of chili today if everyone had to grind their own!
Smaug January 25, 2017
All of these chiles are available ground, if you prefer it that way. Not that you usually grind whole chiles, they are generally soaked and pureed in a blender (food processors can be used in a pinch, but don't do as well)-the most onerous part of the process is washing the blender.