Now that I have a source for organic beef that is affordable, I can once again eat steak and pot roasts. I can grill burgers. More important, I can cook up batches of my chili con carne.
Cili con carne – literally peppers with beef. No beans in my chili – that is sort of redundant. The beef provides all of the protein that you need. You add beans to rice; that makes sense.
I whipped up a batch two weeks ago. Took some into work, and was begged to bring some to work for Nacho Day!
Nacho Day is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Apparently we do as little work as possible all morning, then head to the break room for nachos and salsas and such. Then we leave work early to extend our four day holiday weekend even further.
Without further ado, here is my basic recipe. I tweak it every time I cook.
Carl’s World Class Casa Style Chili
2 Lbs. Beef chuck, cubed (1 – 1½” cubes)
2 large onions, chopped finely
2 tblspsns vegetable oil (olive oil is better for your heart)
1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
1 bottle (12oz) beer (I prefer my homebrew, or a good microbrew for this)
2 cups beef stock – organic beef bone sock is now available in just about any supermarket
4 Jalapeno peppers (or more to taste) with the seeds and stems removed, sliced in half
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8 tablespoons blended chili powder
one quarter cup Masa (or cornstarch if you are desperate)
1 tablespoon paprika
I begin by browning the meat and onions in the oil in my Griswold iron skillet. I chop the onions first, very finely. I throw them in the oil on medium heat, and then begin slicing the beef.
I prefer nice sized cubes. Ground beef is fine if that is your preference, but you will have to saute the onions until they begin to dissolve before adding the meat to brown.
Note: the larger sized chunks of meat are strictly against ICS rules – the International Chili Society insists that their chili have the consistency of pablum. Their concoctions are in no way consistent with what would have been served up to hungry cowboys on the trail.
After the meat and onions are browned, I pour the contents of the frying pan into my Dutch Oven. I add the tomato sauce, beer, beef stock, chilis, cumin, garlic, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the chili powder.
At this point I taste test, and adjust the spices accordingly, sometimes I need to add more of one for balance. I add salt at this step – but sparingly.
Any beer is fine, except for a light beer. If you are going to use a light beer, you might as well use water, or just pee into the mix. I prefer a darker, flavorful beer. I know some people that use Guinness stout. Some chefs toss in a shot of tequila. If there is any tequila involved in my chili, it is going into my mouth as I cook, not into the stew.
Sometimes I grind my spices in a coffee grinder to make them finer and more potent. Just be sure not to use that grinder for coffee afterwards, unless you truly enjoy gastrointestinal distress for breakfast.
I am amazed at how many people don’t use cumin in their chili – to me that is one of the most important flavors. Paprika adds a nice red color and a nice undertone. You do not want to be inundated with any flavor.
I simmer the chili over low heat for two hours, until the meat is tender. This is the perfect time to grab a cold beer and light up a cigar. Just make sure to regularly check in and stir the pot.
After simmering for two hours, I add the remaining chili powder and paprika and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. During this time I add the masa to thicken the stew. I mix the masa in a measuring cup with lukewarm water. I stir it in briskly – otherwise it has a tendency to clump.
Feel free to remove the Jalepenos before serving. I used to, but I leave them in anymore. This recipe makes six hearty servings. On a scale of one to five alarms, this ranks a 3 or 4, depending on the heat and quantity of the jalapenos.
I might add a scoop of sour cream, or sprinkle some shredded Pepper Jack cheese, when I am ready to chow down. But I never, ever put the chili on top of spaghetti or rice or commit any other such atrocity!