You can use this recipe for a simple chili and then flavor it in different ways. Experiment with single ground chiles in place of the mixed chili powder; ground coriander along with the cumin; or smoked paprika for smoky depth and an extra rich red color. Whichever way you choose, keep it simple so the spices shine through. You can also use ground lamb, bison or turkey instead of beef, or vegan meat substitutes such as Beyond Meat. For chili cheese hot dogs, fries or nachos, use this chili and top with finely shredded cheddar cheese.
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, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the chili powder, oregano, cumin and paprika and cook, stirring, until the spices are toasted in the fat, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the beef and cook, stirring, to cook off the raw flavor of the flour, about 1 minute. Pour in the beans, liquid and all, then pour the stock into the can of beans to help loosen any stuck beans and rinse the rest of the liquid out of the can; pour it into the pan. Stir everything to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and season again with salt and pepper.
Serve the chili in bowls and top with cheese, a dollop of sour cream, avocado, red onion and scallions.
Vegan Chili: Substitute 1 pound Beyond Meat for the ground beef and substitute vegetable stock, mushroom broth or water for the beef stock.
Seasoned Ground Beef for Tacos: Cook the recipe through Step 1, then remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Use as a filling for tacos.
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