The hardest thing about publishing a recipe for Chili Con Carne, is that there is no ONE recipe for chili con carne! It’s one of those recipes, that is so customizable, it’s almost more a collection of loose techniques, or even a style of cooking, rather than a specific recipe. I even change my recipe just about every time I cook it. So, that being our (hopefully) mutual understanding, I’m still going to layout a recipe for Chili Con Carne, that I really love. If you see something you don’t like, change it. Want to add something else, go for it…chances are it’ll still be great. In this case, my “secret ingredient” was actually maple syrup. It adds a barely noticeable touch of sweetness and helps to round out some of the sharper flavors. Hope you enjoy this chili con carne recipe as much as I do!
Recipe Overview & Keys to Success
There are not a ton of “must do’s” for Chili, but here are a few that I think will help you make the best version possible:
- Make sure you’ve got plenty of time to allow for the flavors to blend. I like to cook my chili for 5 – 6 hours…at least 3. Kinda tough to do it well in less time – in fact a slow cooker would be perfect
- Seasoning. Chili has a ton of flavors, herbs, spices, etc….but don’t forget the salt and pepper…they are important
- Know that browning ingredients (the onions, the meat, the tomatoes, etc) concentrates flavors, will make the chili more rich tasting. Not to say, you must do that, just keep in mind that it’s a key way to change the nature of the chili. Everything thrown in a slow cooker at the same time vs each ingredients browned or toasted in a hot pan will give you very different end products…the former being more light and bright, the later, more rich and deep flavored.
CHILI CON CARNE
Ingredients for Chili Con Carne (for 8)
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 large diced yellow onion
- 4 mined garlic cloves
- 1/3 diced celery
- 2 large cans of purred tomato sauce
- 1 pasilla chili pepper
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 16 ounce can of chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 16 ounce can pinto beans
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 cup Maple syrup
Chili Con Carne
- Bring a large pot to temperature over medium heat, coat with olive oil and add the diced onion, garlic, chili pepper and celery. Season with salt and pepper and sweat until the onions are translucent
- Add the ground beef and allow it to brown, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon
- Once browned, drain the excess fat from the pot
- Add all the dried spices along with salt and pepper, and toast in the pot with the meat for about 2 – 3 minutes
- Add the tomato paste, and stir to combine. Continue to cook for 5 – 7 minutes to brown the tomato paste, which you should see getting darker, and it will start to stick slightly (don’t burn it…so keep stirring) to the bottom of the pan
- Add the tomato puree and the chicken stock, stir and cover – if there is not enough liquid (it should be fairly loose) add additional chicken stock or water
- Cover and simmer on very low heat for 2 hours
- Uncover and add the pinto beans
- Now is the time to make some adjustments. Taste the chili. If needed you can add salt, pepper, or more spices. If the chili looks thin, continue to cook with the cover off (which will evaporate liquid and make it thicken) if thick, you can add water, beer, wine, etc….
- This is also the time I add Maple Syrup, my secret ingredient. Add about half, and then allow the chili to cook for 20 minutes. Taste it, and if desired, add the rest. You’re not looking to make the chili sweet, or maple flavored, but rather add just another note, and a bit of complexity.
- Cook for another 2 – 3 hours and make any additional adjustments
- I like to serve my with some grated cheese, chopped green onion, and maybe some sour cream (oh yeah, and some tortilla chips)
Wine Recommendation: I am generally a wine guy, but I gotta say for chili con carne, I’d generally go for a beer! If you do really want a glass of wine, I’d probably go for a big, jammy zinfandel. The wine typically is very fruit forward, and can come across as sweet at times. That will help it stand up to the spicy flavors in the chili!