Quick Weeknight Recipe: 5-Ingredient Chili

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As you know, it's Reader Request Week here on The Kitchn, and one request came through loud and clear: more one-pot meals, 5-ingredient, and leftover-worthy recipes! So it's perfectly clear what needed to happen this week: a simple and delicious weeknight chili.

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I find that chili is a dish people are pretty particular about. Maybe your aunt used exactly two jalapenos in her recipe so you can't imagine doing anything else. Maybe you like yours loaded with beans or maybe you don't equate chili with beans at all. Your spice preference is likely pretty different than mine, and what I like to serve my chili with is likely different than what you prefer. So here we are. Where to begin?

I thought that simplicity was the best way to approach this recipe. So many of you are busy, especially on weeknights, and are looking for a simple and delicious recipe using ingredients you likely have on hand. A recipe that takes 30 minutes to make. A recipe that you can stretch for a few nights if need be, or freeze so you've got another meal waiting in the wings. This is that recipe. It may not be the most exotic chili you'll ever try, but it's a truly satisfying and tasty one-pot meal that I've actually made twice in the past two weeks. Since there's only two of us, we'll usually have two meals from one pot of chili and freeze the rest. And I love to doctor it up with fresh cilantro or parsley from the garden and a big dollop of sour cream.

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For this recipe, you can use whichever beans you prefer. I like a mixture of black beans and kidney beans, so I used one can of each. As far as preparation goes, this is a pretty straightforward recipe, but do note that I cook the beef and onion together - the individual flavors compliment one another as they cook. And you'll notice I add the chili powder once the beef mixture is already cooked - it has a tendency to burn or become clumpy if you add it too early. Last, this recipe does call for 1/4 cup of water. Some folks like their chili thicker than others, so start slow here. It's much easier to add more water than to take it away.

5-Ingredient Chili

You could certainly make this chili vegetarian by omitting the meat and adding cooked tofu instead. Because tofu doesn't have the fat content that beef or turkey does, you'll need to cook it with some oil so it doesn't stick to the pan. Alternatively, add an additional can of beans and have a chunky bean chili.

Serves 8

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 large white onion, diced
1/4 cup water
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 15-ounce cans beans, rinsed and drained

In a Dutch oven or large pot, cook the ground beef and onion over medium heat until the beef is browned, about 7-8 minutes. Stir every now and then to help crumble up the meat.

Drain the meat mixture and return to pan. Add the chili powder and stir well.

Add the beans, water and diced tomatoes to the pot and bring to a slow boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low; simmer for 20 minutes. Then uncover and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle chili into bowls and serve hot. Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro or chopped green onion - or anything else that makes you happy. Chili will keep refrigerated for a good 5-6 days. After that, freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.

Related: How to Make Chili

(Image: Megan Gordon)

It's Reader Request Week at The Kitchn! This post was requested by BUTTONS_WHIMS.

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