Recipe for New Hampshire Red Chili

Great for Late Summer Gardeners

My garden is spitting out red tomatoes, celery, and onions faster than a three-month-old enjoying a jar of Gerber's goulash , and it would be enough to drive an unprepared, backyard gardener crazy. But not me. I've been ready since April.

Operation Salsa is on queue for tomorrow. I look forward to this time of the year in the kitchen to stock my basement larder, but I am also conscious of what meals I can make fresh. I have plenty of recipes, and many will be filled in the coming days and weeks, but with the cooler weather of September upon me, I have but one thought: Chili.
I've already put up 6 quarts of pasta sauce, and the first wave of

When I was a boy in Arkansas, back in the good ol' 1970s, my uncle sat me down and put a bowl of his homemade chili in front of me. "Here boy, eat this. It's so good, it'll put hair on your chest." I grew the hair, but I couldn't tell you how it tasted -- it was so hot, I never reached the flavor! Years later I decided I could do better by disregarding the manly tongue-scorching, firehouse cook-off, eat until you cry mentality and focused on the fresh ingredients, not the scoville rating.

Here's how I do it.

New Hampshire Red Chili
2 lbs lightly crushed tomatoes
1 cup diced onions
2 cups diced celery
2 lbs 85% ground beef
1 12 oz can of tomato paste
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder

In a large crock-pot, add the tomatoes (quartered and drained), onions, celery, cumin, chili powder, and tomato paste. Set to high for six hours. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet and season with a generous dash of cumin and chili powder. Drain and add to the pot. Set the crock to six hours on high, and you can leave it be. Or when the six hours are up, re-set it at warm for another 12 hours. This is when it reaches perfection. Serve with homemade corn bread and cold milk.

If you are looking for a vegetarian approach, skip the ground beef. The flavor is just as wonderful!