One of the easiest meals to make hypoallergenic is chili. Now, since peppers and tomatoes are both nightshades, traditional chili cannot be made nightshade free, but it can be made free of all of the big eight and many of the other common food offenders.

This recipe is for a very basic, very easy, not very hot, meat and bean chili, but it is highly adaptable. It could be all meat if you cannot handle the beans (I know some people with bean allergies) and could be made vegan by upping the beans and chili powder. The beans are like rice and they just soak up seasonings so I find I need less chili powder with an all meat version and more with an all bean version. Make it hotter with a hot chili powder. Add gluten-free beer. Add beef stock for some of the water. Its a canvas, a basic, all purpose recipe.

I don’t use soy based fake meat and of course gluten based fake meat (tempeh) is out, so I don’t know how that would impact the seasonings.

A word of warning. Chili will never be featured on Master Chef because it is time consuming to make. It is not difficult, but it takes time in the kitchen. A nine year old with ordinary cooking skills can make chili. Of course he would probably not be able to lift the pot…

This recipe is not very messy. You end up cleaning two pots (albeit one of them is huge), measuring cups and spoons and a cutting board.

This literally makes ten quarts of chili. Ten quarts. If you do not have a chest freezer, a lot of containers for storage, or ravenous teenagers, it is way too much chili. Cut the recipe in half. If you do have a chest freezer, it makes impromptu football game parties easy.

3 cups dried black beans
4 cups dried kidney beans
Water for soaking beans
More and different water for cooking beans
5 c diced onions
3 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 cups chili powder
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
2 T cumin
2 25 oz jars crushed tomatoes (mine was with onions and garlic)

1 ginormous 10 quart pot for soaking beans and cooking chili.
Cutting board and knife
Smaller large pot for cooking beef and onions
Large ladle
Long wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons

Combine kidney and black beans and soak the beans overnight. You can also use the quick soak method, but soaking overnight is more environmentally correct and leads to less mushy beans.
To soak the beans just put them into the pot and cover them with water to a depth of about six inches. That will probably be overkill but you will be amazed at how much they expand just with soaking.
In the morning (or later in the day…whenever you are ready to cook) pour off the water and drain the beans as best you can.
Add fresh water to the pot to cover the beans by about two inches.
Cover the pot and put it on high heat. Bring the water to a boil and then add the salt and turn the heat down to a simmer. You are going to boil the beans for about an hour or until they are just tender.
While the beans are boiling cook the ground beef into a crumble
Chop the onions and add them to the cooked beef until they are slightly translucent and slightly mushy
Add all the remaining seasonings to the beef onion mixture and keep warm until the beans are ready. Do not add the tomatoes.
You may need to stir the beans with the wooden spoon from time to time to prevent sticking and burning. Its rather a project.
When you are done the beans should be in a bean colored liquid about the consistency of cream. You can ladle some off if you want a really thick chili, but I leave it all in as the beans seem to just keep soaking up liquid for a few days.
Add meat and seasoning mixture to the hot beans. Mix well to combine and simmer for about five minutes.
Add tomatoes. Simmer for about 15 minutes to blend the flavors and take the edge off the tomatoes.

Now, for the secret ingredient part.
The chili should seem a bit watery and soupy. If it doesn’t, add a little more water. You want it to be runnier than ideal but not soup.
Allow chili to cool in the pot until you can handle it. It should stay kind of runny.
Put chili into containers for freezing or storage using the ladle.
Put it into the fridge for at least two days. Then you can freeze it or serve it. This allows the flavors to blend, the beans to plump without falling apart and just is really the true secret ingredient in the chili. It will look watery and a bit soupy going in and be amazing a few days later.

Reheat in a pan on the stove and eat!