This is one of the first recipes I developed, over the longest period of time. I started playing around with it when I was a poor undergrad and it evolved from there into the beast that it is today.
1 1/2-2 lbs ground beef (the leaner the better, so you don't have to drain it)
1 large onion
1-2 bell peppers (I like to use a combination of red, green, and yellow peppers)
Jalapeno peppers (as many as you like)
3-4 cloves garlic, (pulverized in any way that you see fit)
Half a bunch or so of fresh cilantro, chopped
~58 oz. canned tomatoes (either whole or diced)
2-3 14.5-oz cans of beans (I like to use a combination of pinto, kidney, chickpeas, and/or black beans)
2-3 Tablespoons chili powder
1-2 Tablespoons ground cumin
cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, optional
salt to taste (at the end)
Brown ground beef in large pot with chopped peppers, onions, and garlic. I usually add a few teaspoons of ground cumin and chili powder halfway through cooking. When beef is brown, add the tomatoes. Bring mixture to a simmer & cook for 15-20 minutes, uncovered. Add the beans, juice and all. Add the largest beans first (in this case, kidney); they will take longer to cook than the smaller beans. Beans should cook until they have softened a little and have assumed some of the flavor of the chili. Adjust seasonings- add more garlic, cumin, or chili powder. You can add red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper if you want it to be spicier. Simmer uncovered until some of the liquid has cooked off and the chili has thickened slightly. Throw some chopped cilantro in at the end.
Note: Be consistent about stirring every 10 min or so...once the beans are added, the chili has a tendency to stick to the bottom to the pan.