Known as just “Chili” in the US, Chilli Con Carne is a classic recipe that everyone should know! It’s made with beef cooked in tomato flavoured broth with paprika, cumin and chilli powder. I like to make mine with a thick luscious sauce – and plenty of it too!
Fabulous served on rice, in baked potato, with cornbread, hot dogs (oooh yes!!!), as a pie filling, nachos topping and even tossed through pasta.
If you search the internet, which I have done because I’m a food nerd, you will find much controversy about Chilli Con Carne. Firstly, it’s known simply as “Chili” in the States whereas in Australia, UK and much of the rest of the world, it’s known as Chilli Con Carne.
Secondly, while Texans claim it as their own (even going as far as legally making it the official dish of Texas!!!!), it seems there is evidence that traces the origins of Chilli Con Carne back to Spain. (For fellow food nerds, here is some nice reading material on the History and Legends of Chili from What’s Cooking America).
Thirdly, die-hard Texan Chili cults will tell you that it’s illegal to add beans into Chili. They’ll also tell you that there’s no canned tomato in Chili (really!), it’s made with cubes of beef (not mince/ground beef) and that it needs to be made using whole dried chilis, rehydrated then pureed. Here is a good authentic Texan Chili recipe that I have tried, if you are so inclined to give the real thing a go.
This isn’t a hardcore Texan Chili. Because actually, the version that breaks all the “real” Texan Chili rules is the one that is more familiar to most.
A certain friend of mine who shall remain unnamed saw these photos on my Mac and exclaimed “Yum! You’re sharing your Bolognese recipe!”.
I gasped with horror and indignantly said “It’s CHILLI CON CARNE. Not Bolognese!”. To which she came right back and defensively said, “Well it LOOKS like Bolognese”.
Damn. I hate it when I lose.
OK, so it does look like Bolognese. Same colour, same saucy consistency, same rich red sauce. But the flavour is very different. Chilli Con Carne starts the same way as Bolognese but is flavoured with a handful of spices including paprika, cumin and (this one will shock you) chilli. So it might look like Bolognese, but it tastes nothing like it.
Promise. If you make this and think it tastes like Bolognese, I will…..hmm. What’s a suitable punishment? Oh, I know! I’ll be Vegan for a month. Cruel and unusual torture for a meat eating, cheese obsessed Carb Monster. – Nagi x
PS I’ve also shared my Shredded Beef Chilli Con Carne. It takes longer to make because the beef has to be slow cooked so it can be shredded. Patience is worth it, it is so good!
PPS For those that are curious, “Chilli Con Carne” is pronounced Chilli Con Carney. So drawl out that “eeee”….like a Texan!
PPPS (Last one, I promise) Americans reading this might ask: “No chili powder in Chili?” That’s right. No Chili Powder. Because what is sold in America as “Chili Powder” is not just Chili, it has other flavourings. Chili powder in most of the rest of the world is just pure ground chili. So to ensure consistent outcome of results, I use cayenne pepper or pure ground chili powder.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, diced (brown, white, yellow)
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), diced
- 1lb / 500g ground beef (mince)
- 1 - 2 tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder (adjust spiciness to taste) (Note 1)
- 2 tsp paprika powder (smokey or normal, not sweet)
- 1½ tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder (or onion powder)
- 1 beef bouillon cube, crumbled (Note 2)
- ½ tsp sugar (any type)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste (puree)
- 14oz / 420g can crushed tomato
- 14oz / 420g can red kidney beans, drained
- ½ - ¾ cup water
- Salt and pepper
- White rice
- Sour cream
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 1 minute, then add capsicum and cook for 2 minutes until onion is translucent.
- Turn heat up to high and add beef. Cook, breaking it up as you go, until mostly browned.
- Add cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika and garlic powder. Cook until beef is browned all over. (This step helps release extra flavour from the spices)
- Add remaining ingredients (start with ½ cup water). Bring to simmer then turn down to medium to simmer gently.
- Cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. It can be cooked for up to 1 hour for really tender meat and a deeper, richer flavour (lid on, top up water as required).
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste just before serving.
- Serve with white rice and a dollop of sour cream (See note 3 for other serving suggestions)
2. You can sub with 1 cup of beef stock and leave out the water. You will need to cook it for a bit longer though to reduce the sauce down.
3. SLOW COOKER: This is spectacular made in the slow cooker. Just follow the steps in the recipe except cook it for 6 hours on low in the slow cooker, using only ¼ cup of water (because the sauce won't reduce at all).
4. This is one of those recipes that is even better the next day and freezes fabulously.
5. Serving suggestions: My standard is on rice with sour cream. Extra toppings include cheese, coriander/cilantro, fresh chillies and diced avocado (YUM).
Other ways to use Chilli Con Carne: In a pie topped with corn bread (which I have since found out is an actual recipe called Tamale Pie, not just something I made up!), on hot dogs (so good!), stuffed into a roast potato, tossed through pasta, pasta bake, turned into a soup, Sloppy Joe, with corn bread (make muffin size or one big one).
6. FLAVOUR Intensity: Do a taste test, and if you would like MORE intense flavours, increase cumin and add 1 - 2 tsp dried oregano (which is used in some versions). And don't forget spiciness - Chili is supposed to be SPICY!!
For extra extra flavour, some finely chopped or pureed Chipotles in Adobo Sauce is fantastic. But this is just extra flavour variations and I don't add it when I'm making this midweek version.
7. Nutrition per serving assuming 5 servings. Chilli Con Carne only, no rice or toppings.
Life of Dozer – Winter? What’s that?