ground or coarsely chopped meat (beef, venison, what have you)
tomatoes (I usually use canned crushed tomatoes AND petite diced, but fresh will work)
Rotel tomatoes (this is a name brand of hot spiced canned tomatoes)
Cooked beans if desired (I use Ranch Style brand (pinto) beans, and black beans. I have used kidney beans, and I have also left beans out. Home cooked beans are fine.)
Jalapeno peppers if desired
I start the meat cooking in a very large, heavy pot. (I make a huge amount at a time, so I use 2-3 lbs of meat.) I add the chopped onions even before the meat is browned. (Dear Husband tells me this is the wrong way to do it.)
Once the meat is cooked, I drain off the fat.
I add the canned tomatoes... Usually the equivalent of 84 combined oz. of crushed and diced tomato product... not counting the Rotel. I add one or two cans of Rotel.
Drain the beans, add them. (I rinse black beans before adding, just because I do not like their "sauce".)
Add the fresh jalapeno and garlic now. (If you use either fresh.)
Cook, covered, for 1/2 hour on a very low temperature.
Add desired amount of Chili powder. This will depend on the brand you use and the spiciness you want. I usually use 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Start with a couple of tablespoons, and taste test for yourself!
Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sugar. Salt to taste.
The ginger adds a mild warmth while helping prevent indigestion. The sugar helps counteract the acidity of the tomatoes. (DH says it is wrong to add either sugar or ginger, but usually praises my finished chili when he doesn't know these have been added.)
Continue cooking 20 minutes to infinity longer. OK, so you cannot cook it to infinity. I like the chili to slow simmer for at least 2 hours from the first sign of simmer, before serving.
I serve with tortilla chips and cheese. Some people like it with crackers. Some even add sour cream.
Refrigerate leftovers. Freeze leftover leftovers within 3 days.
***Warning*** Do Not serve the day before long trips where you will be in a confined place, unless you can have the windows open.