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Chili Con Carne -- is it really beef, chilies, and not a whole lot else?

 'Real Texas chile con carne is made with beef, chilies, and not a whole lot else.'

Well...mine has a lot more as I appreciate the beans. It seems to work for me to be a sauce for beans.

But I got bored with my usual combo.

While I use minced lamb --as is my habit -- garlic and onion with sweet peppers, I adapted one recipe and added

  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram (or oregano). I used a bunch of fresh herbs.
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons  balsamic vinegar(or apple cider vinegar)

This approach jumped out at me because it is more in common with Middle Eastern spicing -- although not the addition of vinegar.

In goes the tomatoes and some stock(chicken) for a cook up in the pressure cooker. And the beans.

My wife objected to the very little chili I added but this was a gorgeous chili con carne. Dave's best ever.

The recipe I worked from asked for a lot of chili-ing:

  • 3 whole sweet fresh dried chilies like Costeño, New Mexico, or Choricero, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 small hot dried chilies like Arbol or Cascabel, stems and seeds removed
  • 3 whole rich fruity dried chilies like Ancho, Mulatto, Negro, or Pasilla, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 whole Chipotle chilies canned in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoons sauce, stems and seeds removed

Such experiments are denied me and I must add my chili quotient at table.

Home grown (plus) chilies lacto fermented is my standard table condiment.

But since I am denied the heat nuances I do recommend the spice blend.I'm sure thyme would work just as well for the herb. The vinegar and fish sauce combo is a zinger. You could use Worcester sauce instead -- like they do in the English speaking Caribbean.

With 500gm of mince I added 2 cans of beans and one can of toms.

For the aficionado this HISTORY of chili con crane is fascinating.

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Sounds amazing! I do a 'Chilli con Carne without the Carne' and without all those fabulous spices. Especially when I have an excess of my own Capsicums.

I can't imagine it without beans.  Those are certainly a more middle-eastern mix than mine which is interesting.  I tend to use chilli powder (mine), turmeric powder (mine), coriander (bought), garlic and salt.  I will often use about 500 grams of minced beef or even pork.  I confess to using a can of diced tomatoes when I am running low on the home grown ones. I find I need to add about a half cup of water if it gets too thick.  Capsicum and onions are a must of course. 



Beans, a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine, have been associated with chili as far back as the early 20th century.[11] The question of whether beans "belong" in chili has been a matter of contention among chili cooks for a long time. While it is generally accepted that the earliest chilis did not include beans, proponents of their inclusion contend that chili with beans has a long enough history so as to not be considered "unauthentic".[12] The Chili Appreciation Society International specified in 1999 that, among other things, cooks are forbidden to include beans in the preparation of chili for official competition—nor are they allowed to marinate any meats.[13] Small red or pink common beans are commonly used for chili, as are black-eyed peas, kidney beans, great northern beans, or navy beans.



Tomatoes are another ingredient on which opinions differ. Wick Fowler, north Texas newspaperman and inventor of "Two-Alarm Chili" (which he later marketed as a "kit" of spices), insisted on adding tomato sauce to his chili — one 15-oz. can per three pounds of meat. He also believed that chili should never be eaten freshly cooked but refrigerated overnight to seal in the flavor. Matt Weinstock, a Los Angeles newspaper columnist, once remarked that Fowler's chili "was reputed to open eighteen sinus cavities unknown to the medical profession."[15]

sounds interesting - bit off the chili con carne myself - my first degree I lived in at college for a while and worked in the kitchen to pay the fees etc - Saturday few of us would be around ( just broke students and workers _ me on both counts) so dinner Saturday night was CCC - left overs from other meals ground up with lots of beans and chili to disguise the taste !!!! may even try your recipe if I am brave enough! 

That's a good lookin' bowl Dave. 

I must admit that once my madagascar beans are pumping along, this is the dish I have in mind for it.  I've finally worked out the capsicum growing thing, just gotta get the toms happening and this dish will become a real regular at our house.

RELATED is a fav Tex/Mex dish that doesn't feature on line. At home here we call it Texas Rice and Beef.

Basically it is a pilaf with a base sofrito of onions, garlic and chopped up sweet peppers fried up with minced meat. Then you add diced olives -- preferably Kalamata-- chili to taste, tinned or fresh  tomatoes. After stewing up, add rice and steam. The more Kalamata the better. And you can throw in a chopped herb.Parsely settles it well.

It seems very Spanish to me  and the name may not be geographically correct but it works a taste thrill every time....with the sweet pepper/olive combo.Like chili con carne it makes great leftovers.

I think minced meat is bonza and I prefer it so often to diced. I get a side of lamb regularly and make sure a lot of it is minced.

As for the beans.While I do soak my own (as I did for dried Pigeon Peas  a few nights back for THIS FAVORITE RECIPE)  the current range of the canned stuff is pretty awesome.And so cheap! A few cans of your fav legumes in the pantry goes a long way to easy eating.

I prefer to use fresh tomatoes rather than tinned stuff because I can control the taste and lighten it. In the case of mussels with pasta --which we had tonight -- the recipe called for grape/Tommy Toes but I only had tinned toms. Seriously, though, I think Tommy Toes cook up the best in these sorts of dishes. They are sweat, expand then explode as the juices stew. And as I've said before, when fresh, they freeze well.

But a chili con carne with meat, beans, stock and fewer tomatoes than I poured in would have  more flavour nuances, I'm sure. In Greek mode I do however glug glug with the olive oil.

And one further homily: celery. I didn't use sweet peppers in this chili as is my habit. But I did sofrito it with onions, garlic and celery. Changed the flavour a lot away from the sort of intensity you'd expect. Celery is a great flavouring when stewed and sweated sofrito style. That's why I'm dependent so often on the Chinese celery I grow as there are so many excuses to harvest and cook with the stuff. 


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