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Chili con carne, a first attempt from a European

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ChrisFlanders View Drop Down
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    Posted: 28 May 2012 at 05:58

I never ever made chili con carne (CCC) in my life. It's not all that popular around here, except with young people. I found a nice recipe in a.. french cooking magazine. Most ingredients were in the house, so I had to make at least a few adaptations. I ended up with quite a different CCC than was discribed in the magazine. Please feel free to advise whatever you think approaches the more authentic recipes.

I make a lot of european stews, so my method always involves the use of a frying pan for the meat and a cooking pot to start the aromats and to assemble. It's some sort of multitask cooking made easy.

What I used;

- Meat; storebought ground beef, a pork filet thick slice that I cut in small cubes of around 5mm (1/5 inch), some spanish chorizo, cubed.

- Aromats; chopped onion, carrot, celery stalk, red chili. Bell pepper, peeled and sliced.

- Herbs and spices; koriander seeds, black cumin seeds, fennel seeds, 3 kardemom pods, fresh lovage leaves and savory, chili flakes and cayenne powder

- filling; canned peeled tomatoes and red kidney beans

Here are just a few ingredients;

Preparation;

In the frying pan I fried all the meat separately one after the other; chorizo, pork and finally the beef. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in the cooking pot I start to sweat the aromats on low fire; onion, celery, carrot, fresh chili and a very small pinch of dried chili flakes. I don't like too much chili added in the beginning of long cooking time needing stews. The heat builds up and goes on and on. That's why I minimalize it in the beginning. Salt and pepper is much more important in this stage. It builds layers of flavours.

Meanwhile also; dry roast the spices except for the kardemom pods. The pods are lightly "cracked" with the side of the knife so the seeds stay inside the pod but the cooking liquid can reach them. All other spices go in a non stick pan on medium fire. When done, transfer to a mortar and pestled into a coarse powder.

When the aromats are translucent after about 10 minutes, add the ground spices and let fry for another 5 minutes. Add the fried meat and the canned tomatoes. Add just enough water if necessary to merely cover everything. Add some salt and pepper and finely chopped lovage leaves and savory. Let cook on low fire for 90 minutes, lid on.

Now add the sliced bell peppers and the beans. Let simmer for another 30 minutes, lid off. Taste for s&p. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, add more to taste.

Done. A bit of sour cream with fresh herbs on top.

One thing I will change next time is the meats. This dish should taste great with a combination of chorizo, fresh lean pork belly and tougher parts of beef, all handcut in tiny cubes. IMO, minced beef is not a good option in this dish, it keeps an unpleasant grainy mouthfeel. I also think this dish needs green bell peppers to add a little bitterness and a good dash of vinegar at the last minute, just to balance the dish. Any comments or suggestions?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Mead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2012 at 14:10
Most of the chili I've had has had garlic and cumin in it, but yours sounds really good! (And I'm from the Northeast, so I'm no authority on "authentic" anyway.)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Daikon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2012 at 14:53
While what you made looks interesting, Chris, I wouldn't dare to call that chili in TexMex chili country.  There is a lot of room for variation in chili recipes, and at least as much room for argument about what is best, legitimate, authentic, proper, etc. in chili recipes, but I'm afraid that your Frenchified recipe pretty clearly falls outside of the pale of what TexMex chili aficionados would consider to be chili.

I won't put it forward as the best or the most authentic chili (like I said, there is plenty of argument over that), but Alton Brown's recipe is an easy route to something that is in the ballpark and is very tasty.  Using tortilla chips as he does to thicken the gravy works quite well, but can introduce too much salt, so try to find unsalted or lightly-salted chips.  Else you can use an equivalent amount of masa harina (i.e., enough to make 7.5 tortillas) instead.  That's something like using flour vs. using bread crumbs to thicken a stew -- either way will get you to a fairly similar end product.

Now I'm hungry and need to go ladle up a bowl from the batch I made yesterday....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2012 at 22:22
Chris,

Your pictures look fantastic, and make me hungry.Thumbs Up I want a bowl right now!!!

However, that is not Chili. It is, however, a fantastic looking chili inspired stew.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2012 at 23:09
I agree 100% with Daikon and AK1 that while your stew looks delicious, and I am sure it is, it is not chili. 

As the Mexicans say, "chili con carne is a detestable American creation with a false Spanish name" but we are quite fond of it and it never contains pork, carrots, celery, Indian spices, etc.  However, it varies wildly from region to region of the country, for example, in Ohio they even serve it over pasta and sometimes include macaronis in it (Yech!).

Where I am from (Indiana in the American Midwest and commonly known as God's Country) it is made from...

Beef (ground or cut into cubes or more commonly, a blend of the two), onions and garlic, tomatoes, beef or chicken broth (or both), chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper, and kidney beans (although many consider beans to be a big no-no).

Here is a recipe from a friend of mine who is a chili cookoff champ and owns a famous restaurant in my hometown in Indiana,  This is the chili he serves in his restaurant and it is excellent, however, for competitions he leaves the beans out.  This is a very authentic recipe.  If you are interested, here is a link to his restaurant, that's him in the pic sitting on the saddle on the right hand side of the page.

http://www.msgrill.com/



 
Wild Bill’s World-Famous Indiana Red “Chili with an Attitude”

1/4 cup canola oil

2 1/2 pounds coarse-ground chuck

1 1/4 pounds round steak, cut into half-inch cubes

1/4 cup hot chili powder

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1/2 tablespoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar

3/4 cup beer

3/4 cup water

3 cups tomato sauce

6 cups diced tomatoes

6 cups cooked dark red kidney beans, with broth

1 1/4 cups diced onion

3/8 cup diced green bell pepper

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat and brown the meat. Mix the spices, salt, sugar, beer and water together, and then add to the pot with the meat and oil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for five minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, beans and broth, onions and bell pepper. Simmer four hours and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Place pot in an ice bath to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, remove film of oil floating on the top of the chili and discard. Reheat chili and serve. Serves 12.

Source: “Killer Chili: Savory Recipes from North America’s Favorite Restaurants” by Stephanie Anderson

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Addtotaste Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 02:19
Hey Chris

Your dish does look really good. Like the others have said I wouldn't call it chili but I definitely would call it good. I like to add a bit of cocoa to my chili but I tend to call my concotion "TexMex Mince" or "Mexican inspired mince". I leave out the beans because my husband doesn't like beans but I will share with you my recipe that got me one of 15 top spots in a recent competition:

What you need:

1 large onion, diced

1kg beef mince

2 peppers (I use 1 red And 1 yellow), sliced

1 tin Tomato and Chilli

1 tomato paste cup

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbs quality cocoa

1 cup beef stock

½ cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

 

What to do:

In a large pan, fry the onions until soft and starting to change colour. Add the mince in stages on a high heat. Cook till brown then add the peppers and cook til they just start to soften. Add the tin of tomatoes and the tomato paste. Cook slightly. Add the spices and the cocoa and cook a little bit longer then add the stock. Bring to the boil then bring the heat right down and allow to simmer for at least 1 hour (the longer the better, if it gets a little dry add a bit more stock). Season to taste and then take off the heat. Add the coriander right at the end

Check out some more recipes and reviews - www.addtotaste.co.za
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 04:29
Thanks everyone for the comments, suggestions and recipes so far! As far as I understand a number of ingredients have to go; the pork, the carrots, the celery and the too exotic spices. That's taken in for my next attempt, thanks! Don't hesitate to post more suggestions. I'm struggling with the question how "hot" this stuff has to be?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 05:54
That's simple to answer, Chris: as hot as you want it to be.
 
Among died-in-the-capsaicin chiliheads, it can't be too hot. Indeed, the heat is the whole point of it, for them. But nobody says you have to go that route. If you like lots of heat, then make it that way. If you're into milder concoctions, than that's the way for you to go.
 
Also, don't confuse the stew-like dish you're striving for with competition chili. For that purpose, the "sauce" is everything, and if a judge can physically discern anything other than sauce and meat you'll loose points.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 07:29
Originally posted by ChrisBelgium ChrisBelgium wrote:

Thanks everyone for the comments, suggestions and recipes so far! As far as I understand a number of ingredients have to go; the pork, the carrots, the celery and the too exotic spices. That's taken in for my next attempt, thanks! Don't hesitate to post more suggestions. I'm struggling with the question how "hot" this stuff has to be?


Chris,

As Brook stated, there are no hard and fast rules, you can make it as mild or hot as you like.  The chili I make ranges from quite mild, the recipe I posted is a good example, to blistering if I am the only one eating it.  When I want a lot of heat I may puree a few fresh habaneros and add to it as it cooks or I may add smoked and dried habanero powder, sometimes just cayenne, etc. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Daikon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 07:57
Originally posted by ChrisBelgium ChrisBelgium wrote:

Thanks everyone for the comments, suggestions and recipes so far! As far as I understand a number of ingredients have to go; the pork, the carrots, the celery and the too exotic spices. That's taken in for my next attempt, thanks! Don't hesitate to post more suggestions. I'm struggling with the question how "hot" this stuff has to be?
Actually, I kinda like using some pork shoulder.  But the dominant protein should definitely be beef -- probably chuck.

At least as important as the amount of heat is the kind of heat.  Bias toward smoked chilies, such as chipotle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 09:44
hi, chris -
 
what you tried looks and sounds really good, but as others have said it's not quite chili. no worries though, because they have offered some great advice - i'll throw some in, as well.
 
my mother is from south-central and south-western colorado, a state with a good chili tradition. having said that, nearly every ingredient in her chili always came out of a can (tomatoes, beans etc.) and it was made from ground beef. good chili, but not probably not the real experience.
 
to me, chili is a celebration of four flavours: beef onions and tomato - held together by the common denominator of the chile, which provides the base and, of course, heat, to the degree that you desire. great chili doesn't have to be hot, but it should definitely be a warm, satisfying experience that will leave no doubt as to the region of origin.
 
my favourite beef for chili is chuck roast, cut into cubes. if you are not familiar with this cut, any cubes cut from the neck, shoulder and upper front quarter will be fine. you want tough, hard-working, wonderfully-flavourful cuts that are going to turn perfectly tender with slow cooking, much like carbonade - in fact, i am willing to bet that if you approached chili from the perspective of carbonade, you will find success, using the flavour profile of the american southwest: tomatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano and, of course, chiles.
 
the chiles should be dried, smoked if you can get them. they can be hot or mild as you prefer, but i recomend going on the mild side, as you can add crushed red pepper flakes to the final dish, if you prefer. reconsititute them in enough hot water to cover them, then pulverise them into a paste (instructions below). diced onions and tomatoes should be prevalent almost to the point of dominating the dish, but not quite. for liquids, you want tomato sauce and beef broth or stock.
 
here's a good recipe that i used as a base, then improvised for "chile colorado;" i'll post the recipe, then add my modifications:
 
Quote 8 dried red chiles (such as Guajillo, California or New Mexico) rehydrated and ground into a paste (see below)
3-pound beef roast
1 can beef broth
1 can tomato sauce
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lard or oil for frying
 
Rehydrating Dried Chiles-
 
Pick dried chiles that have no tears or broken pieces. Use whole chiles that look fresh. Rinse off any excess dust or grime under cool water. Pat dry then cut the top off of each chile and then slit it down the middle. Shake out the seeds, using your fingers or a spoon to dislodge any seeds that want to stick. Peel off any excess dried veins that are lighter in color and run in a line down the inside.
 
Heat a comal (or griddle) over medium/high heat and roast the dried chiles for 2-3 minutes. Turn them often to avoid burning them. Then you're going to cover the chiles in hot water and let them soak for about 30 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water and place the chiles in a blender with about 1/4 cup of water or the soaking liquid (if it is not too bitter) and puree until smooth. You can also add the garlic and oregano to the chiles while blending them. The finished puree is what you will add to the Chile Colorado.

------------------------------------------
 
i added to the recipe above a large diced onion, which i carmelised first in a dutch oven (with the minced garlic near the end); then i set the onions aside and seared the cubes of beef, similar to making carbonade. i then prepared the peppers as described above, brought the onions, beef and chile puree together with the tomato sauce and also a can of crushed tomatoes. added the spices (including a scant tablespoon each of cumin and paprika) and broth (stock would be better, of course). into the oven at 275-300 for two hours or so, and it was really good. 
 
the simple flavors made an almost-perfect combination. i omitted the salt, since the tomatoes and beef broth seemed to have plenty. the chiles provided the right amount of spice without being overpowering or oppressive - overall, i was impressed.
 
if this dish needs any thickening, masa harina or crushed tortilla chips would be best, if available - having said that, it can probably be thickened through simple reduction. beans can be added if you like, or can be served on the side in their own right. tortillas are a good way to scoop everything up.
 
any questions - just ask - lots of good advice here, and i hope that mine provided a few ideas as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 10:24
Chris,
Here's a basic idea of what chili is; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chili_con_carne


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 11:32
Originally posted by AK1 AK1 wrote:

Chris,
Here's a basic idea of what chili is; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chili_con_carne




From the article:

"The Chili Appreciation Society International specified in 1999 that, among other things, cooks are forbidden to include beans, marinate any meats, or discharge firearms in the preparation of chili for official competition.[10] "

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 11:39
Well, no wonder competition chili tastes like shit!!! It doesn't have that subtle essence of burnt gunpowderWink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 13:12
ChrisBelgium - Your first recipe looks a little exotic but it sounds good and I wish that I could try it. 

There are a LOT of chili recipes.  Besides regional variations there are variations by family and local chili cook-off rules.

This is about the simplest "Zen" chili recipe that I could find: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-homemade-chili/

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the beef and onion and saute until meat is browned and onion is tender. Add the stewed tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, beans and water.
  2. Season with the chili powder, garlic powder, salt and ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Once you capture the basic flavor then, like everyone else, it is time to have fun and experiment.   I have to agree with Daikon about adding chipotles (or a very small amount of habeneros) while you are browning the meat.  I suggest using a cast iron Dutch oven and half course ground bison and half course ground beef (bison tastes a little too dry by itself). 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2012 at 15:11
Chris,

Is chili powder easily available in Belgium?  Specifically, brands like Gebhardt's or Mexene?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2012 at 05:35

Well I'll be..., if you guys had asked me a week ago what chili con carne was, I would have said a steaming hot bean stew with meat added (con carne). That's how distorted my view on CCC was. No beans, I thought they were the key ingredient! I have read some recipes in the past, with just the one eye opened, but as I remember, all of them had kidney beans in them. This thread is very instructive for us europeans!

I like a little theoretic approach. So far I collected this wisdom here;

- the main players in the dish; beef, onion, tomato and chili.

- heat source; re-animated dried/smoked chilis, cayenne, canned chili, hot chili powder

- beans; optional?

- meat; beef, preferable "stew" cuts. Ground meat or cubed. I heard mentioned bison too.

One misunderstanding solved -concerning the heat- made me happy;... make it as hot as you like. I'm not into burning hot dishes at all, it paralyses the tastebuds and always ends up in a stupid competition how much fire one can support. However, the chilis used seem to be very important. We have plenty of chili powders available, including cayenne which seems to be mentioned a lot here. There's also the smoked paprika powders. I'll have to check in etnic stores if they carry dried chilis, I would be surprised if they didn't, but these stores mostly aim at an african clientele and in second position the asians. I know they have several kinds of canned chilis available of brands totally unknown, I'll have to check for Gebhardt's or Mexene. I'm excluding all asian red and green chili paste, they contain lots of other stuff that may be unwanted in this dish. Harissa paste might be a good alternative, it mainly contains chili and garlic. Maybe a combo of harissa and pimentón (smoked paprika powder) would be a good alternative if poblanos are not available? We do have those cute chinese lantern style fresh "madame Jeannette" peppers occasionally... wooohaaaa, those are a big NO for me, they get my brain boiling!!!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2012 at 06:05
Chris, harissa would be a perfect addition to chile, as it maintains classic flavor lines. I know I don't have to warn you about going easy, though. Harissa can be nuclear.
 
You might consider an ounce or two of either unsweetened or bitter-sweet chocolate as well.
 
While beef is the traditional meat used in chili, various game runs it a close second. Has to do with availability, I'd guess, as venison is probably the second most popular meat used. And the running joke is, if it don't have armadillo in it, it ain't Texas chili.
 
Chopped (minced) meat is most often used because it's readily available. But the best chilis are made either with very small dice, or with shredded meat.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2012 at 09:38
Chris,

Another clarification.  When North Americans speak of chili powder we are not referring to cayenne, paprika, etc.  but rather to a blend of different ground chilis (usually ancho and cayenne), cumin, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, etc.  If you cannot find a good chili powder in Belgium this recipe from Alton Brown would make a nice one.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/abs-chili-powder-recipe/index.html

If you are really getting interested in chili I wonder if would be possible for one of us to ship you a couple of American chili powders?  Would there be a problem with shipping foodstuffs into Belgium?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2012 at 09:46
good suggestion, andy ~
 
chris, as soon as i have some chuck or similar meat avaialble, i'll prepare a tutorial for some good chili, based on the comments above my other members and myself. it won't be THE only way to make chili, but hopefully it will give you some guidance etc.
 
if anyone else wants to create a tutorial, so that chris has other options and ideas, please feel free to do so. simply create a new post/topic in theis Texas/Southwest section, and then post a link to your tutorial here on this thread! Tongue
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