Chili Con Carne

Until Tuesday, I had only made one chili recipe, that of my mother’s “Bean Soup” from the cookbook she authored, Five Sundays. It is a recipe that ends with the instruction to purchase and ingest Bean-o. It was good, and crockpotable, but this, oh, this. Must be the bacon. This chili, served with the focaccia bread, is an incredible combo.Image

Chili con Carne

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated mag 1998

(gifted to me from Kim Wiseman)

  • 3 Tbsp. ancho chili powder or 3 medium pods (about 1/2 ounce), toasted and ground.
  • 3 Tbsp. New Mexico chili powder or 3 medium pods (about 3/4 ounce), toasted and ground (mine comes from the Chimayo sanctuary just outside of Santa Fe, where it is said there was a miracle turning barren land into fertile soil that yielded chili peppers—so this is, essentially, holy chili powder, from holy dirt. Most people bought bags of the holy dirt from the Chimayo gift shop. I bought chili powder from the Latino restaurant across the street from the holy site. Best I’ve ever had.)
  • 2 Tbsp. cumin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes, and ground.
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican.
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 4-pound beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • 2 tsp. salt, plus extra for seasoning.
  • 8 ounces bacon (7 or 8 slices), cut into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • 1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup).
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced.
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce.
  • 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 medium lime.
  • 5 Tbsp. masa harina or 3 Tbsp. cornstarch.
  • Ground black pepper.

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

2. Fry bacon in large, heavy soup kettle or 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 additional 2 teaspoons bacon fat to pot as necessary. Reduce heat to medium, add 3 tablespoons bacon fat to now-empty pan. Add onion; sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and jalaneño; 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 until meat is tender and juices are dark, rich, and starting to thicken, about 2 hours.

3. Mix masa harina with 2/3 cup water (or cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. water) in small bowl to form smooth paste. Increase heat to medium; stir in paste and simmer until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning generously with salt and ground black pepper. Serve immediately, or preferably, cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate overnight for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving. 
Serves 6

5 stars. For another gas, try riding a dalahast at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis:Image 

where the kukelagn are Rococo and I learned that even the Scandinavian primitive peoples made coffee a priority (coffee pouches stitched from reindeer hide!)ImageImage

3 thoughts on “Chili Con Carne

  1. I am glad to see you so thoroughly enjoyed your time at the ASI! On my pre-remodel visit there a couple of years ago I didn’t see any of the delights that you shared here, so I now want to return! Coffee pouches, what a genius idea! Those could come in handy for marathon running 😉

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