[Posted in response to Sarah, with apologies in advice: this turned out to be a damn dissertation.]
Usually I'm put off by bloggers who post recipes saying, "OMG this thing I made was the best thing EVER!" So I won't claim that this chili was spectacular, but I can tell you that I tried a new method this year and was pretty encouraged by the results.
I had always used ground beef for chili, because that's what my mom used, because that's really the easiest thing. But lately I've converted to the Church of Chunked Beef, and I'm not looking back. I also added a secret ingredient this year, which will be revealed below.
Since you didn't ask: I am unfamiliar with the use of any kind of produce in the making of chili. Fresh onions, tomatoes, etc. have no place here. And I will not even discuss beans. If you want to move to Russia and pledge allegiance to Stalin, that's your business.
So yeah, the recipe:
2 lbs. pot roast (i.e. chuck roast)1/2 cup chili powder4 tsp. cumin1 Tablespoon dried onion2 tsp. paprika1 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)1/4 tsp. garlic saltone (3.3 oz) tablet of Ibarra hot chocolate, grated
1.5 cups beer1 cup tomato sauce1/2 cup tap water2 Tablespoons masa harina*1/2 cup hot water
Cut the roast into 1-inch pieces and put these in a Dutch oven. Add the spices (including the chocolate) and toss to coat the beef. Brown the meat (in batches, if needed), then add the beer, tomato sauce and tap water. Cook this for a looooong time, at a looooow temperature. [If you have one of those crockpots that you can use to saute on the stovetop, more power to you.] I cooked mine in the oven at 200 degrees for about 9 hours.
20 minutes before you're ready to serve, heat up the 1/2 cup of water, and add the masa to it, whisking vigorously with a fork. Add this masa mixture to the chili. While you're there, you might want to shred the meat a bit; that's how I like mine. Let the chili cook a little while longer. Then it's done.
*I have heard that, if you don't have any masa handy, you can just pop in a corn tortilla and leave it in the chili for the last bit of cooking. I've never tried that, but it sounds reasonable.
Since I was serving kids and adults at the party, I split the difference between queso and Frito pie: I set out the chili along with Fritos, tortilla chips and Ro-Tel dip (and of course sour cream). I can't see how Ro-Tel dip is not an improvement on grated Longhorn cheddar cheese in this application, especially since the latter tends to get tacky when it's left out on the buffet. But if you feel differently, knock yourself out.
And since you also didn't ask: if I'm just making chili for dinner at home, I skip all those other accoutrements and eat it with white rice and Saltines. I'm not at all clear on the evolution of that particular combo, but I promise it's how lots of people eat it.