When it comes to chili, there are recipes that suit every taste, from ones that include unexpected meats to others that have no meat at all. But if you're looking for a never-fail, easy go-to chili that skimps on surprises and instead offers the familiar deep, rich flavors that are so welcome on an, er, chilly day, this is it.

The recipe calls for cubes of beef chuck, which has a beefier flavor than ground beef. It's a tough cut from the shoulder, but after a few hours of stewing in the slow cooker, it becomes beautifully tender. There are also plenty of kidney beans (three cans!), so you're guaranteed to get a hearty mix of meat and beans in every spoonful. And unlike the process used for making many soups and stews, this recipe doesn't require a ton of chopping—the only real work is cutting the beef into 3/4-inch pieces and chopping an onion and some garlic. Canned tomatoes, tomato puree and tomato paste lend a nice acidity and complement the other ingredients nicely.

Then there are the spices: chili powder and cumin give the chili a touch of heat plus a warm, toasty flavor. This recipe also has two major flavor boosters: chopped chilies in adobo sauce, along with a spoonful of the sauce itself (for a smoky taste) as well as soy sauce (the secret weapon that gives a savory saltiness).

When it comes time to dig in, we love this chili in a bowl topped with shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, chopped red onion and a few cilantro leaves—but it's also tasty over nachos or even egg noodles. And, perhaps best of all, it freezes like a dream, so consider making a double batch (it'll keep for up to three months in an airtight container), for comfort food anytime you want it.

Get the recipe: Smoky Beef Chili


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