Every home cook needs at least one great chili recipe in their arsenal.  It's the ultimate comfort food - hearty and wholesome with tons of flavor and universally crowd-pleasing.

This chili was inspired by all the beautiful organic beans that we have been getting from our Grant Family Farms CSA share.  I used the mixed black and pinto beans we got this week and some of the kidney beans from last week, which is a pretty classic trio of legumes for chili.  I like the color and texture that results from this combination, but just about any bean you have laying around in your pantry will do!

I used 100% grass-fed beef and Niman Ranch pork to make the meal a little more special (we don't eat a lot of meat in this house, after all!) but this chili is quite flavorful and delicious without the meat, too.  I love topping each serving with lots of fresh cilantro and queso fresco.  Use whatever toppings you like best - some might prefer a good aged cheddar and red onions or a heaping spoonful of sour cream and green onions.  The best thing about chili is, it's easy to make it your own!

Classic Chili
serves 6
3 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups mixed beans (I used pinto, black, and kidney), rinsed and picked through
1 can whole San Marzano tomatoes
6 cups vegetable or beef stock
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp Mexican oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 T tomato paste
salt & pepper
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 pound ground pork

Optional garnishes:
Cilantro and queso fresco
Aged cheddar and diced red onions
Sour cream and sliced green onions

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onions and cook until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Add beans, the liquid from the can of tomatoes, and increase heat to high.  Crush the whole tomatoes by hand in large, rustic chunks and add to the pot along with the herbs, spices and tomato paste.  Stir well and allow mixture to come to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer until beans start to become tender, about 1 1/2 hours. 

Meanwhile, heat a large shallow pan over medium-high.  Add ground beef and pork and break apart with a flat-ended wooden spoon.  Cook meat until lightly browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Once cooked, drain the fat from the meat in a colander.  Add to chili.

Continue to simmer the chili with the meat until beans reach desired level of tenderness - for slightly al dente, cook another 30 minutes.  Season well with salt and pepper and serve with garnishes.

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