2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/4 pound pancetta, diced (optional)
About 1 tablespoon fennel seed (a scant palmful)
2 pounds ground beef or ground pork or beef and pork combined
Salt and pepper
2 red cherry chili peppers or red Fresno chili peppers, sliced or seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
About 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can cannellini beans or chickpeas (28 ounces), drained
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup dry wine, red or white or 1 cup Italian beer or 1 additional cup beef or chicken stock
3 cups beef stock for beef-only chili or chicken stock for pork chili or beef and pork combined
Shredded provolone cheese
Finely chopped raw onion
Heat the EVOO in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, if using, and brown to crisp, then add the fennel seed. Add the meat, brown and crumble, then season with salt and pepper.
Once the meat is browned well, add the chili peppers, onion, garlic and fresh or dried oregano and cook until the onion is translucent, 8-10 minutes more. Add the beans and stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the wine or beer. Let the liquid cook down, then stir in the stock. Simmer to combine the flavors.
Serve in bowls topped with cheese and basil or chopped onion, if desired. This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, visit www.yum-o.org.