Is it cold enough for chili? It certainly was while I was writing this column. That’s good enough for me. In my opinion, there’s always room in one’s schedule for some good chili. This one makes use of two unusual ingredients — Cola and unsweetened cocoa powder. It adds something to the flavor I just can’t argue with.

Chili

2 tbs. or so of butter

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 medium yellow onions, diced

2 heaping tbs. minced garlic

About 2 lbs. ground beef

3 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes

2 cans chili beans

1/4 cup full sugar cola

1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)

1/2 tbs. salt (or to taste)

2 tsp. paprika

1 tbs. cumin

4 tbs. chili powder

1 tbs. hot sauce of choice (optional)

Instructions

Heat up a large soup pot and melt 2 tbs. butter. Sauté diced vegetables in butter until soft — about five or six minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for another minute.

Add ground beef and cook until fully browned. Pour ground beef and vegetable mixture from the pot into a strainer and allow excess grease to drain over a large plate stacked with paper towels. Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients to the large soup pot, stir and bring to a simmer. Add the meat and vegetable mixture back to the pot. Allow to simmer on low heat for an hour or more, checking back every 15 minutes or so to give it a stir.

This chili is best eaten the next day. It’s great for meal prep because it makes about 10 servings and will keep in the fridge for about a week — if it lasts that long.

LYDIA KAUTZ is the Managing Editor of the Junction City Union.

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