When I hacked this recipe in my first book, I must not have done a “sieve analysis.” Recently, I took ½ cup of Wendy’s Chili and rinsed it through a fine mesh strainer. The solid stuff that was left behind told me a lot about how I could improve this recipe. I found a lot more vegetables in the Wendy’s version than in my earlier version—twice as much, to be exact. So doubling the onion, chilies, and celery was the first step to making this famous chili recipe a greatly improved clone. Through further examination, I found that there was too much tomato sauce in the mix, so I left out the sauce and replaced it with canned petite diced tomatoes. I also fine-tuned the seasoning and added some cornstarch to help thicken up the finished product. Now try the ultimate Wendy’s Chili clone, which, I think, is the best-ever hack of the most famous chili in America.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups diced white onion (1 large onion)
1 cup seeded and diced Anaheim chili (2 medium peppers)
⅔ cup diced celery (2 stalks)
2 pounds ground beef
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
3 15-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
1 29-ounce can dark red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 29-ounce can pinto beans (with liquid)
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons garlic powder

Shredded, cheddar cheese
Chopped onion

Cooking method

1-Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, chili, and celery and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the onions become translucent.

2-Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes or until no pink is visible. Be sure to crumble the beef as it cooks so that there are no big chunks in the pot.

3-Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add it to the pot along with the remaining ingredients. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours or until thick. Stir every 15 to 20 minutes. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onion, if desired.

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