Saturday, January 15, 2011

Recipes: Chili con Carne

As with many of my themed blog posts, my "Recipes" have fallen behind.  But this specific recipe needed to be posted, as it was a request from one of the lovely ladies in my knitting group (hi Judy!).

I think I have mentioned before in the blog that I don't often use recipes when making meals.  I do like using recipes, and do use them for trying new dishes, but have also built up a decent repertoire of my own creations (often variations of popular dishes).  My own do tend to vary a little every time, depending on what I have in the kitchen.  One of my own versions is the meat chili I make, a recipe I developed over a decade ago, likely before I met my husband (in 2000).   I don't measure spices or seasoning, so these are estimates.  Please taste/season as you go.

Chili con Carne
  • 2-3 cans of beans (I use a mix of chickpeas, kidney beans and one other - a navy or pinto bean. I also usually soak/cook my own. If you cook the beans for this recipe, use 1 cup of dried beans for each type you wish to cook.)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 12 or so mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large bell pepper (I prefer red, yellow or orange)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated (I keep my ginger frozen in large pieces, so they last a long time, and just grate what I need while the ginger is still frozen)
  • olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1lb lean ground beef (I often used ground buffalo/bison. You could also use any other ground dark red meat, like ostrich, or venison, though these will lend their unique flavours to the chili. I used to use the Ives brand "faux ground round" when I was a vegetarian, and this sort of thing works really well - it can fool carnivore humans :-)
  • 3-4 drops of worcestershire sauce (to meat up your meat!)
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 2 stalks celery and 2 carrots, diced (Optional.  Some people think celery and carrots don't belong in chili, just spaghetti sauce, but I do sometimes throw them in.)
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 1 tbsp each of the following spices: cumin, tumeric, paprika, oregano, basil. 
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder (omit if you don't like any spice heat in your chili, or add more if you do)
How to:

- Brown meat with a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a Dutch oven pot (that holds 4-8litres).  Set beef aside in a bowl.  Saute mushrooms in that same pan, adding a bit of olive oil and a bit more salt and pepper, till lightly browned.  Add to beef in same bowl.
- Cut up all vegetables. Using that same pot, add a little more olive oil, then add the onion, bell pepper, celery and carrots (if using).  Saute for about 5 minutes, till vegetable are soft.
- Add garlic and ginger, and saute for 1 minute more.
- Add beans, diced tomatoes, beef and mushrooms.
- Add 1/2 cup water (if the chili seems to need more liquid later, add a little at a time to ensure a small moist bit of "broth" surround the food stuffs)
- Add all spices and herbs, plus the salt and pepper.
- Allow to simmer for 20 minutes minimum.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

 I like to grate a little sharp cheddar to my bowl.  Serve up to hungry friends and family.  Enjoy!

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