Sunday, July 26, 2020
Crack Chili Con Carne
So I acquired a tenant some time back who thinks my chili is truly awesome. Any time I make it, I freeze most of it and she will devour it over the next few weeks. I thought I'd post the recipe here. If you will allow me a detour into pedantry, chili basically means some type of stew or liquid flavored with chilis. (Chiles? However you spell it, you know what I mean.) Chili con queso: with cheese, chili con carne: with meat. Technically, I suppose meatless chili would be chili con frijoles though I have never heard that term used. At some time in the past few decades, however, chili con carne was shortened to simply "chili," in the assumption that the dish is going to contain meat.
My chili is not gourmet in the slightest. It's made with ground beef, not chunk or stew beef, and the base recipe is the 1:1:1 of one pound meat, one 1-lb can tomatoes (technically we now have 15-ounce cans, but whatever), and one 1-lb can of beans. I'm sure it sounds pretty pedestrian, but allow me to suggest a few choices which can add up to a significant improvement in the final product.
Beans: I go with either small red beans or pink beans, though you can use pinto or black beans if you like. Do not drain the beans.The starch in the bean liquid will help thicken the chili.
Tomatoes: diced fire-roasted for preference, and I also add a small can of tomatoes and green chilis (the best known brand in the States is Ro-Tel). Don't drain the tomatoes, either.
Additional liquid: Rinse the cans with a small amount of water and add that in. In addition, I use beef broth. Beer is an alternative (at least a small amount) and some cooks add coffee.
Flavorings/spices: This is where you can get creative. I dice an onion and two cloves of garlic and cook these after the meat is browned and drained. Then add the meat back in and add the beans/tomatoes/Ro-Tel and the beef broth. Now, keep in mind that chili powder also is a thickening agent. Standard prepared chili powder consists of pulverized dried chilis, oregano and cumin and often paprika. You can also purchase powders of individual chilis such as ancho chili, but I go with the old tried and true. What I like to do is to start with pouring in some chili powder - I really don't measure but I would estimate 1.5 to 2 tablespoons - and then add in varying amounts of oregano, paprika, garlic powder (yes, on top of the garlic), maybe some celery salt, cumin and a little cayenne. Depending on what is available and my whim, other options would be crushed red pepper or hot sauce. And if you're going for that gourmet touch, a small amount of cocoa powder or bitter cooking chocolate can be added, though I've never tried that either. Be sure to taste as you go. Don't forget the salt, though with the sodium in the canned vegetables you may need less than you think.
Once all this is in, I bring it to a boil, lower to a simmer and let it go for at least an hour. Don't let it go at a hard boil, because the beans are already cooked and they will fall apart. Lastly, another authentic touch if you want to thicken your chili is to take a small amount of cornmeal, mix it in a cup with some water or liquid from the chili until you have a smooth, loose slurry, and stir it into the chili. You should not use a lot, maybe a couple of tablespoons of cornmeal, and it will need to cook for 20 minutes or so.
You can serve with diced onions, grated cheese, sour cream if you like. You can also put chili on baked potatoes or cooked rice, or even on spaghetti. Warm leftovers and toss with romaine or iceberg lettuce, corn chips and cheese and you have taco salad. Enjoy.
This is a favourite here - many variations on it every time l read a new recipe. One l made had a small amount of chocolate powder. I usually forget to use the bean 'juice' and tip it down the sink. The children now favour the soft wraps instead of the hard taco. Mexican in Australia - we used to go out for dinner at Taco Bill which opened a chain here in the '70s - apparently Taco Bell is now moving in and charging Taco Bill with some kind of copyright infringement. Tequila Sunrises all around. Oh the headaches we had.