You might scoff, but this is the key ingredient to my favorite weeknight chili

Some dishes come so naturally that you take them for granted. I’ve made this chili more than probably any other dish I’ve cooked for my kids, yet I haven’t taken the time to write the recipe down, much less share it in the paper.

This chili might have some unconventional ingredients, including sweet potatoes and coconut oil, but it’s a hearty, nutritious weeknight staple in the Broyles house. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Chili purists will scoff at not only the beans, but also the coconut oil and the sweet potatoes and probably the garam masala, too. It’s OK. I understand their passion for Terlingua-style no-bean, no-tomato chili, but that doesn’t have nearly enough nutritional oomph for a weeknight family dinner.

With the beans (kidney and black beans are ideal, but any mixture will work) and the sweet potato, you’ll get full on more than just meat and spices, and you can use the leftovers to make empanadas. We like to eat it topped with everything but the kitchen sink — sour cream, shredded cheese, Fritos, cilantro, onions — but I’ll leave that part up to you.

You can put leftover chili in an empanada wrap to use up the leftovers. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Addie’s Weeknight Chili

As for the canned tomato, you can use any that you’d like. Even marinara sauce from a jar sitting half empty in your fridge works. I sometimes throw in a can of tomato paste or masa to thicken and intensify the flavors and texture. Some of you might like chili with 3 tablespoons of chili powder, but I tend to play it safe on the spiciness for the sake of the kids.

Cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, cayenne pepper and garam masala. Addie Broyles / American Statesman

A final note: Try garam masala in your favorite chili recipe, if you haven’t already. With notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, it adds a sweet smokiness to the already cumin-spiced chili. With the sweet potatoes, black beans and coconut oil, it’s a match made in heaven. Not anything like a chile con carne or other Texas-y chili, but it’s the default chili I’ve built up over the years. Hopefully it will evolve the longer we’re here, just like the cook.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped sweet potatoes
1 1/2 lb. ground meat (beef, pork, lamb, bison or combination)
1 (15.25-ounce) can kidney beans
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 (15-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups water (or beer or stock or a combination)

In a large pot with a heavy bottom, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sweet potatoes. Cook, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes have softened, about 15 minutes. Take the sweet potato and onion mixture out of the pot and add the meat. As you brown the meat, add the spices and stir often. When the meat has cooked, add the sweet potato mixture, the beans and tomatoes to the pot. Stir well and then add two cups of water or another liquid. Simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour and serve. Garnish with sour cream, cheese, avocado, Fritos, saltines, cilantro, onion or whatever other chili toppings you like.

— Addie Broyles


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