by Ben Miller
For a dish so simple, I can never seem to make a chili that I’m thoroughly pleased with. Usually I just combine a mixture of ground beef, chili powder, a few types of beans, some hot peppers, tomatoes, and a few other seasonings, but that never really seems to produce anything all that great.
So for the Super Bowl I decided to try making chili from a recipe. I ended up going with this one from Simply Recipes. I did so because 1) it seemed rather uncomplicated, and 2) it used whole meat rather than ground. Every chili I’d ever made (and all that I can recall tasting) were made with ground beef, so I was curious how this would turn out.
Overall, I thought it was ok. Better than most of my previous efforts, but it still didn’t feel like I had really created a fantastic chili. (If you’ve got a recipe for one and would like to share it, post it in the comments).
Chili Con Carne
Adapted from Simply Recipes
- 2 Tbsp red chili powder (I used McCormick’s Mexican chili powder)
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (I didn’t have any, so instead I crushed up some piquin peppers that I had bought Ezra from Penzey’s)
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- 3-4 Tbsp water
- 4 strips bacon
- One 2 1/2 pound chuck roast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 jalapeño chili peppers, stems removed, seeded, ribs removed, minced ( never take seeds and stems out, you’re putting hot peppers in there for a reason!)
- 1 14-oz can whole tomatoes
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 14-oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in a couple tablespoons of water (due to dietary restrictions for one of the people I was feeding, I used flour instead, more on why this didn’t work so well later)
- Combine the chili powders, cumin, oregano, coriander, thyme, and water together. You are basically making a chili paste
- Cook the bacon on a skillet until it turns crunchy (throw on a few extra strips for a snack too). When done, remove the bacon and reserve the fat.
- Put some of the fat back in the pan and cook the beef in batches, browning all sides and adding salt and pepper. I tried doing this on high heat so that I would only sear the outside, but I think I overcooked it a little bit, because by the time the chili was done I still wished the meat had been a little bit tenderer.
- Remove the beef from the skillet, add more bacon fat. Then add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Cook for a few minutes, and then add the chili paste. Cook for a few minutes more so that the onions can incorporate the flavors.
- Put the meat, onions/garlic/pepper mixture into either a Dutch oven or large pot. Add in the water, tomatoes (crush them with your hands as you put them in), lime juice, sugar and water. Also crumble the bacon and add it in. Raise the heat so that the whole mixture simmers, cover, and cook for 90 minutes.
- The original recipe calls for putting the beans in at the very end, I added them after the 90 minutes. Either way, uncover the chili and let it cook for another 30 minutes.
- I found the chili at this point to be pretty thin, so I dissolved slightly more flour than the recipe called for in corn starch (I believe that in general corn starch thickens better, though I can’t confirm this). Unfortunately, the flour really didn’t seem to be doing much as a thickener, and the end result was still pretty thin. Adding cheese and sour cream did help this somewhat. The other problem with flour is that it gave the dish a gravy-like brown color.
- If you haven’t added in the beans, do so here and make sure the mixture is nice and hot. Also taste it and see if it needs more salt or anything. Serve with cheese, sour cream, or whatever else you like on your chili.
So what would I have done again? Probably smaller chunks of meat cooked even quicker. More hot peppers to give it more heat. Slightly less water so that it is not as soupy, and I would probably use cornstarch instead.
I know someone out there must have a delicious chili recipe. Anyone want to share?