Do you have a really big skillet? If not, you are going to want to go buy one so you can make this chili right away.
If you are not convinced that you need a 14-inch skillet, I understand. However, I intend to convince you to make this chili. It's the best chili I've ever had, and it's a complete and colorful one-pot meal. If you didn't just go by a huge skillet and/or don't need to feed a bunch of people, you can halve the recipe and make it in a normal-sized pan.
Why is this the best chili ever? Well, because bacon. And sweet potatoes. And all the fresh things on top that make this the perfect comfort food to carry you from winter into spring.
This dish is for people like me, who don't want beans or any tomato products or a lot of excess liquid in their chili. I just need salty bacon, sweet potatoes, some perfectly spiced meat, and what's basically deconstructed guacamole for a topping. Using half pork and half beef gives the chili even better flavor. It's amazing right away and it's even more amazing the next day. My mother agreed that this is the best chili ever, and she is kind of hard to please. I haven't heard her rave so much about a food I've made since this cranberry orange curd tart.
There is kale in this recipe. If you don't want to put kale in your chili you obviously don't have to, but I want to tell you that you can barely taste it. It's just a nice way to sneak it some greens and start feeling a little more springy. I got the idea to put kale in chili from the cookbook Cooking with Coconut Oil, and now I'm hooked. It adds great color and texture, and makes me feel extra healthy when I eat it.
One more reason to make this chili, and to put kale in it? Kale & sweet potato are really good friends. See proof here.
Yield: 8 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
For the chili:
6 slices bacon (check out US Wellness Meats for Whole30-approved bacon)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 lbs. sweet potatoes (2 large), chopped
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground beef
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 cup water, plus extra as needed
1 small bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped (about 3 cups lightly packed), optional
2 avocados, chopped
2 limes, cut into fourths
1 red onion, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Fry the bacon in a very large skillet until crisp, and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels. Pour off all but two tablespoons of fat from the skillet, reserving one tablespoon for later. When the bacon is cool, chop it into bits and set aside.
Add the onion and sweet potato to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until well-browned, about 15 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside (don't worry if the sweet potatoes are not yet fully cooked).
Heat the remaining tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan, and add the ground pork and beef. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula, until cooked through and no longer pink. Mix the spices and salt in a small bowl, then sprinkle them onto the meat. Add the water and the sweet potatoes and onions, and stir to combine everything well. Reduce the heat so that the chili simmers, and cook for at least 30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender, or for up to 1 hour, adding water as needed if the mixture looks too dry.
When you are almost ready to eat, stir in the kale, if using, and cook for 10-15 minutes more, or until the greens are wilted and tender. Stir in the chopped bacon, reserving some for serving on top if you like. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Serve hot, topped with avocado, cilantro, red onion, and a squeeze of lime.
This chili will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days and also freezes well, so it's great for making ahead. I defrost single servings of frozen chili in the refrigerator the night before and then heat it in the microwave. If you're reheating a larger quantity, it might be easier to warm the chili on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
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