Recipe: Bacon Beef Firehouse Chili

I recently posted this chili over on my Instagram, and got several requests for the recipe. You ask, I answer.

Basically, I adapted this from an article that I can’t find anymore about a fireman who makes a similar version to this for his firehouse buddies. I say similar, because I’ve made some substantial changes, especially with the tomatoes. I hate, hate, hate cooked tomatoes; I don’t mind the taste, but there’s something about the texture that weirds me out.

If you don’t have my hangups (and who does?), you can replace the tomato sauce with two small cans of whole tomatoes.

I wouldn’t leave out the cinnamon, though; it really adds a unique depth of flavor.

This makes a huge pot of chili that’s perfect fall eating. It’s very versatile, too: You can serve it topped with sour cream and cheese, over rice, on hot dogs or with Fritos and shredded cheddar for Frito pie.

Beef and Bacon Firehouse Chili

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. bacon
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans chili or ranch beans
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce (or whole tomatoes, undrained)
1-2 tablespoons chili powder (per your heat level)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Cut the bacon into pieces (I use scissors) and fry in a heavy, deep pot, such a Dutch oven. Remove bacon to a plate and keep the grease; brown the ground beef in the bacon drippings, scraping the bottom of the pot to scoop up all the flavorful bits. Drain the grease and set the beef aside in a bowl.

Placing the pot back on the heat, cook the onion and garlic until translucent and aromatic. Add in the beans, tomato sauce, spices and cheese, and bring to a boil.

Put the beef and bacon back in the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.

As with all chilis, a.) it tastes better the longer you cook it and b.) it tastes just as good – maybe better – the next day, so feel free to make it in advance.

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