Chilly weather? Time to make some chili. Try this 3 bean, 3 meat chili from the Colorful Cook | VailDaily.com

Chilly weather? Time to make some chili. Try this 3 bean, 3 meat chili from the Colorful Cook

Since 1977, Texas has proclaimed by state legislators that chili is the state food. If you talk to a Texan about chili, beware your recipe will not suffice to the "bowl of red" that holds the state food seal of approval.

Researching the origination of chili, all arrows pretty much point back to Texas and poor Texas at that. Much literature (whatscookingamerica.net) states that when families were affording meat, it was only a tiny amount so they had to "soup it up" so they could feed everyone. They did that with onions and peppers. Legends also state that when explorers from Texas were traveling to California looking for gold, they had a dried beef and pepper stacks that could be rehydrated on their journey for a nourishing and warm meal. On their travels, they planted oregano and wild onions to refuel on their trek homeward.

In the 1880's the "Chili Queens" of San Antonio would sell their chili out of colorful wagons in Market Square where tourists and locals would sit on wooden stools in the streets and enjoy a bowl of chili. It was an attraction however the queens were shut down by the health department in 1937.

As small groups of Spanish settlers made their homes in Texas in the 18th century, their fiery stew became a version of American chili as well. According to an old Southwestern American Indian legend, Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain, known to the southwestern Indians as "La Dama de Azul," the lady in blue, played a big part in the creation of chili as we know it. It is said that Sister Mary would go into trances for days and once awoke and wrote down a recipe that included: antelope, onions, tomatoes and chili peppers. Legend states that Marys' spirit would travel to faraway places and preach to the heathens about Christianity. No documentation confirms this but a good legend is just that. In the 19th century, Spanish priests were wary of the passion ignited by peppers and warned of its aphrodisiac side effects, further popularizing the spicy soup (to the heathens, I guess).

Have your chili however you like, it's an easy soup to make and you can fill it with anything you like. When I am creating recipes, I always add vegetables and adding lots of bell peppers gives this chili color, antioxidants, vitamins and flavor. The only real fat here is from the meat, I use lean beef and turkey and full fat sausage for the savory flavor.

Beans are a part of a healthy diet and provide protein, folate, B vitamins and iron. According to Power Foods, "eating these earthy-tasting legumes is one of the most important dietary factors in longevity." To make life easier, I purchase canned beans and rinse them well before using which reduces their sodium by at least half. Another canned product that is worthy of your purchase is canned tomatoes. Surprisingly, canned tomatoes have more lycopene than fresh. Again, Power Foods states, "cooked tomatoes contain two to eight times more lycopene than raw because the heat breaks down the cell walls releasing more lycopene for absorption by the body." Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and believed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Get spicy, get healthy and warm up with a bowl of chili. If you want to make a big batch and freeze some, freeze the chili before adding the beans- they tend to become mushy when thawed.

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3 Meat, 3 Bean Chili
16 oz. jimmy dean breakfast sausage
16 oz. ground beef
16 oz. ground turkey
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
3 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 Bell peppers, red, green, yellow & orange
1-2 Jalapeno (optional)
42 oz fire roasted chopped tomatoes
20 oz. black beans
14 oz. northern beans
30-40 oz. chili beans with spices
2 Teaspoons olive oil
2 cups water

Spice mixture: mix all ingredients
1 Tablespoon each: salt, pepper, dried parsley & smoked paprika
1 teaspoon each: chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, onion powder

Heat oven to 425.
Over medium heat on the stove top, brown the sausage with 1 Tablespoon spice mixture in a large pot until well cooked and burnt pieces appear on bottom of the pan- about 10 minutes.
Cut the peppers into small cubes and place them on a baking sheet, drizzled with 2 teaspoons olive oil and a little salt. Add jalapeno if using. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.
Add onion to sausage in pot and stir. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring. Remove onion and sausage from pan and reserve on a plate.
Add ground beef and turkey to the same pot with 1 Tablespoon spice mixture and cook until well done, breaking up meat into small pieces, cook until brown bits appear on bottom of pan.
Mix in sausage and onion.
Add garlic.
Add tomatoes in their juices and 2 cups water and cook, stirring until the brown bits release from the bottom of the pan.
Mix in cooked peppers and remaining spice mixture. Stir until combined.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 3+ hours.
Rinse black and northern beans with water and add beans to chili.
Add beans and juice from chili beans to chili.
Stir and warm to serve.
Makes about 24 cups or 5 quarts.

Tracy Miller is a personal chef and caterer. Tracy focuses on healthy cooking by adding fruits and vegetables to all meals. You can contact her at Tracy@colorfulcooking.com.