The Ultimate Chili con Carne Thread

A call to all SDMB cooks, food lovers and epicurians in general!

I’m thinking of doing a few threads where we discuss about a particular dish. For the first installment, I have chosen chili con carne. Never having lived anywhere near the Rio Grande, I haven’t really been exposed to true, authentic Southern chili.

What was the best chili you ever had?
What’s the secret of the ultimate chili con carne?

Oh, and…

Recipes, recipes, recipes!

Pinto beans

Beans in chilli? I’m outta here before the Texas people show up with the lynch mob!

Habanero chillies.


And beans? hell yes!

No beans, no chili powder, no tomatoes, no ground beef say some purists. Having posted that caveat, my chili includes those four items along with many others. I make a 10 gallon batch every fall, freeze it, and enjoy it thru the winter. It’s an all day labor of love, and definitely worth the time and expense. I’m also keen to see what the afficianados have to say about the REAL chili.

No beans!
Chili should contain two ingredients: beef (preferably not ground, but cubed) and chile sauce.

For the chile sauce, soak several (de-stemed and de-seeded) dried red peppers in simmering water. Use whatever pepers you like, or any combination of peppers (Anaheim, Pasilla, etc.). In a blender or food processor, combine the softened chiles with roasted garlic, comino, salt, and mexican oregano. Add enough chile water (or regular water or broth or beer) to make it smooth.

Cube some beef and sear it in a little fat; some swear by kidney suet. After the beef has been seared, add the chile sauce, stir, and let it simmer for an hour or two. During the simmer, some chili cooks have a calculated series of “spice dumps”, but I just leave it alone.

After this batch is done, you can eat it right away or better (if you can wait), place it in the fridge for 24 hours. The next day, skim off the solid fat and reheat the chili for a superior product.

Please, folks, “Chile” is a country, “chili” is a dish made from chili peppers. As to ingredients, that’s a Tex and Mex argument for purists, with a little Okie Red thrown in for irritation. Chili is wonderful because of the variations, not in spite of them. My own preference is for chicken and black beans, and since I have won contests and awards for it, will put it up against any so-called “authentic” chilis.

Nice thread, though.

That sounds a bit mole-ish. Yum. Would you mind providing a few more details?

Should I expect the lynch mob if I used preserved chilis instead of fresh ones?

Yes, “Chili” is the meat dish, but “Chile” is–in addition to being a country–the name of the peppers. Chili is made with Chiles.

Hmmmm…shocked to say you may be right. However, the dictionary says either and even indicates “chilli” is an accepted use. A quick search on Yahoo shows both spellings within the same article or recipe. I suspect that “chile” would be the Spanish spelling and therefore I stand corrected.

The key is in the use, proportion and preparation of the spices, of course. I dredge the chicken in a combination of ancho, chipotle, cumin, cinnamon and sweet Spanish paprika, then saute in olive oil until the meat is browned and the spices have released their oils. I also have added a hunk of dark chocolate once everything is simmering and you are right: the result is a mole-like liquor.

Dried chilis (or chiles, as discussed above) are certainly fine. A chipotle pepper is just a dried poblano pepper. See this site for more information.

A chipotle is a smoked jalapeño, not a poblano!

Here is my recipe for chili using Guinness and black beans. It uses several non-standard ingredients, and can be tweaked to give more or less kick. It’s smoky, sweet, but if it is seasoned properly, can kick your butt. I use serrano peppers, and for this batch (probably about a gallon) four peppers is a lot.

Man, this is what I get for posting at 4 in the morning! Yes, a chipotle is a jalapeno, an ancho is a dried poblano. Cripes! ::dodders back off to bed::

Warning: The following is most definitely not a purist recipe. :eek: It is, however, very tasty.

1 lb. tip steak, cubed
1 lb. ham, cubed (please use meat from a real ham, already baked prior to the chili-making)
1 lb. turkey breast, cubed
fresh peppers, minced (type and quantity depending on your taste and heat tolerance)
1 large red onion, chopped
lots of fresh garlic, crushed
cumin (I don’t measure, but I’d guess a couple tablespoons)
oregano (maybe a teaspoon)
black pepper
celery seed
1 bottle beer (I prefer Killian’s red – darker gets to sweet, lighter is not flavorful enough)
2 lb. crushed tomatoes (I use canned)
2 lb. canned chili beans

Marinate everything except the tomatoes and beans overnight. Throw it all in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid is gone. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until enough liquid has evaporated that the chili is nice and thick. Add the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve with fresh cornbread, shredded cheddar, and sour cream.

My recipe, very simple. The magic (tho slightly unorthodox) ingredient is the sweetcorn.

In a large pan,
chop and brown one onion

add one or two garlic cloves

add a red pepper and / or some mushrooms

add 500g turkey, beef, or chicken mince and brown it

add 2 tins chopped or whole tomatoes

add some tomato paste

add 1 tin kidney beans

add 1 small tin of sweetcorn

season with any/all of the following - tabasco, Worcester sauce, oregano, rosemary, bullion cube, salt, pepper

let simmer 20 minutes

Serve over rice with lager or cider to drink. Yum!

I won an office chili cookoff using the chili con carne recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. Goddam, this is some good chili:

Chili Con Carne - serves 6

To ensure the best chile flavor, we recommend toasting whole dried chiles and grinding them in a minichopper or spice-dedicated coffee grinder, all of which takes only 10 (very well-spent) minutes. Select dried chiles that are moist and pliant, like dried fruit.

To toast and grind dried chiles: Place chiles on baking sheet in 350-degree oven until fragrant and puffed, about 6 minutes. Cool, stem, and seed, tearing pods into pieces. Place pieces of the pods in a spice grinder and process until powdery, 30 to 45 seconds.

For hotter chili, boost the heat with a pinch of cayenne, a dash of hot pepper sauce, or crumbled pequin chiles near the end of cooking.

Serve the chili with any of the following side dishes: warm pinto or kidney beans, corn bread or chips, corn tortillas or tamales, rice, biscuits, or just plain crackers. Top with any of the following garnishes: chopped fresh cilantro leaves, minced white onion, diced avocado, shredded cheddar or Jack cheese, or sour cream.

3 tablespoons ancho chili powder, or 3 medium pods (about ½ ounce), toasted and ground (see note)
3 tablespoons New Mexico chili powder, or 3 medium pods (about ¾ ounce), toasted and ground
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted in dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes, and ground
2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
4 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
7–8 slices bacon (about 8 ounces), cut into 1/4 -inch pieces
1 medium onion, minced
5 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 5 teaspoons)
4–5 small jalapeño chile peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
5 tablespoons masa harina or 3 tablespoons
Ground black pepper

  1. Mix chili powders, cumin, and oregano in small bowl and stir in ½ cup water to form thick paste; set aside. Toss beef cubes with 2 teaspoons salt in large bowl; set aside.

  2. Fry bacon in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate; pour all but 2 teaspoons fat from pot into small bowl; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté meat in four batches until well-browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding 2 teaspoons bacon fat to pot each time as necessary. Set browned meat aside in large bowl.

  3. Reduce heat to medium and add 3 tablespoons bacon fat to now-empty pan. Add onion and sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeños and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chili powder mixture and sauté until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reserved bacon and browned beef, crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, lime juice, and 7 cups water. Bring to simmer. Continue to cook at steady simmer (lowering heat as necessary) until meat is tender and juices are dark, rich, and starting to thicken, about 2 hours.

  4. Mix masa harina with 2/3 cup water (or cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water) in small bowl to form smooth paste. Increase heat to medium, stir in paste, and simmer until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings generously with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately or, for best flavor, cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.

Great Googly Moogly, this thread is making me hungry.

I’m not as refined a chef as the others who have posted their recipes so far. I’m more of a garbage chili maker. I get a kettle, dump in cans and cans of stuff, and simmer for a few hours.

2 onions, sliced and diced
1 green pepper, chooped up
1 other color pepper, likewise
6 or so garlic cloves, bruised and sliced razor thin
a half jar of jalapeño or habañero peppers
3 cans diced tomatoes (usually Del Monte Mexican)
3 jars salsa (preferably garlic roasted if I can find it)
A couple of pounds of diced meat
1 can black beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 small can white shoepeg corn
a couple packs chili seasoning
some vinegar
a few dashes of Chinese red pepper
lots of black pepper
other spices that look good
some leftover spaghetti sauce

I like chili that makes you sweat just a little bit. You sweat enough to have to towel off your hair afterwards, but not enough to wipe your face constantly.

I’ll definitely try these other recipes, assuming I can figure out how to grind spices without having to buy some expensive gadget.

Depends. Can you afford one of these? :stuck_out_tongue: In all seriousness, they are quite handy and should be pretty cheap.

I’m partial to The All-American Chili Book that someone bought for me once. Two someones, independently of each other in fact. I gave the extra one to my mom. I haven’t made nearly all the recipies in there, but so far they are all good. I also like Carroll Shelby’s chili kit for when I want something less involved but still good. You ought to be able to find it in other stores besides the one in the link, but at least now you know what it looks like.