Monday, July 23, 2012

Chili Con Carne - quick, easy & versatile

One of my culinary pride & joys is my evolving recipe for chili con carne. This is the most up-to-date version. It's tasty and it all comes together in about 15 minutes. You can make this with any kind of meat that pleases you. I most often make it with ground chuck, but ground turkey or some steak works fine. I accidentally defrosted pork chops once, so I used them instead. You can make this with raw meat or with leftover beef, chicken, steak or pork. I've even pulled the meat off left over ribs. The only difference in the recipes is that if you're using raw steak or pork chops, I want you to brown them it your dutch oven first, then put in the spices. Otherwise let's do it this way:

We start off with my preferred spice mixture. I always use French's Chili-O & Ortega Taco mix. I just do. If you have a preferred brand of seasoning, use that. Or just use a blend of chili powder, cumin and garlic powder that floats your boat. This is how I do it.

Put some oil in your dutch oven and add the spices. Allow them to cook over a medium flame until you can really start to smell the seasoning. Then add a dollop of tomato paste and let them brown together for a few moments.

Now it's time to add approximately one pound of meat. If you are adding raw ground meat such as beef or turkey, put it in and add a good glug of beef or chicken broth. I know this may go against instinct, but without the liquid the ground meat will get hard and tough and we don't want that. Just cook the ground meat in the broth for about four or five minutes  If you are using cooked meat like leftover beef, turkey, chicken, pot roast, steak or ribs removed from the bones or some steak or pork that you've just browned, go ahead and put them in. Truthfully, you don't have to use meat at all if you'd prefer chili non carne.

For this batch I used leftover Shredded Taco Meat & meat leftover from the Magic Ribs.

Now for the tomato based components. I like to use a 16 ounce jar of salsa. Go with hot, medium or mild depending on your preferences. You could also use a can of tomatoes with chiles or a can of fire-roasted tomatoes with a few shakes of hot sauce. I like to use salsa because the tomatoes, onions and chiles are already in there. For this one I used leftover salsa, half a can of Mexican tomatoes and half a can of fire-roasted tomatoes. It's a great way to use up leftovers.

Now the beans. I was taught to make it with pintos, but over the years I have evolved to a mix of garanzos, black beans and dark red kidney beans. These are an especially important ingredient if this is chili non carne. I really like the meatiness garbonzos give to the mix. It's also very visually appealing to mix up the beans. If you are making a smaller batch or don't want so many beans, never fear. You can always freeze the leftovers.

Now just dump the beans and tomatoes in the pot and add a mixture of about half broth/half water until you get the kind of consistency you want for your chili.

Now, you're going to heat it all through while you stir

The longer you simmer, the better it tastes, but it tastes perfectly fine after just heating through.

Very yummy. Then I like to add cheese.

Followed by chips.

Followed by sour cream and hot sauce.

You add what you like. Excuse me, I need to go eat.

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