Chili Perhaps con Carne

Chili Peeping!
Chili Peeping!

Chili con Carne was the second thing[1] I ever learned to cook (Thanks JC!). I learned to cook it right after I moved out in 2nd year.

This recipe is in the tradition of what my mom (and I’m assuming my Baba) call ‘peasant cooking’. You take the things that you have on hand, and combine them in a way that makes the most sense. Hashes, casseroles, and stir-frys are similar.

This Chili works well with a variety of ingredients. It can be made vegan (and I often do) by not putting in the meat (as described below).

Chili Perhaps con Carne
Feeds about 8, takes about 1 hr

– Meat if you want (1 lb lean or extra lean ground beef works well, I imagine chicken would also work well, or whatever else you have lying around)
– 2 small- to medium-sized yellow onions, or 1/2 to a full large one
– 1 can whole tomatoes (796 mL, if you don’t like them whole, crushed may work, but I’ve never tried it.)
– 1 can kidney beans (540 mL, some organic kidney beans come in smaller cans. This is fine.)
– 1 can tomato paste (156 mL, the small ones in the grocery store)
– Garlic, 4 cloves (not 4 heads, that would be delicious, but you would probably not taste anything else)
– Herbs & spices (I use oregano, rosemary, black pepper, basil, and sometimes cinnamon)
– Chili powder (actually not a requirement, surprisingly)
– Whatever vegetables you want to put in (peppers work really well, tomatoes could work, but are already present, broccoli may work, cauliflower and potatoes will give a more starchy/sweet taste, zucchini works reasonably well)
– Olive oil (you could use any cooking oil or butter here, even water in a pinch)
– Skillet (Thanks Y&C!), large frying pan, or wok
– Some type of stirring spoon (I use a large wooden spoon)
– Can opener

con Carne Process:
– Turn on the stove. Probably 375 degrees (190 Celsius), for me it’s 3 ticks less than middle on a large burner. 375 is where butter browns, if that’s helpful.
– Cook the meat[2]. For ground beef, this means browning the meat so that it is brown all the way through. I usually put all the meat in the skillet, split it up so more of it is in contact with the cooking surface, then add the olive oil.
– While the meat is cooking, add in the herbs and spices
– While the meat is cooking, chop up the onion(s). I chop them up into about 0.5cm slices, then into 1-2cm max-length bits from that.

Vegan Process:
– Turn on the stove. Probably 375 degrees (190 Celsius), for me it’s 3 ticks less than middle on a large burner. 375 is where butter browns, if that’s helpful.
– Chop up the onions I chop them up into about 0.5cm slices, then into 1-2cm max-length bits from that.
– While the onions are cooking, add in the herbs and spices

Common Process:
– While the onions are cooking, chop up whatever vegetables you’re putting in. I chop up peppers into about 1cm squares
– Throw the vegetables into the mix. Stir them in. Depending on the vegetable, you’ll want to order them by slowest-cooking to fastest-cooking. This is why I put the onions in first. I would put root vegetables (potatoes, carrots especially) in early, mushier vegetables like zucchini in a little later
– Open the can of whole tomatoes. Pour it in including the tomato juice. You will want to split the whole tomatoes in half using the wooden spoon, or they will feel like lava when you try to eat them.
– Open the can of kidney beans (keep the lid). Pour off the water (lid is helpful here). Rinse the kidney beans once or twice and pour off the rinse water (lid is still helpful). Pour the kidney beans into the mix. Stir.
– Open the can of tomato paste. Scrape as much of the tomato paste as you can into the mix (they don’t call it paste for no reason!).
– Stir.
– Let it come to a boil (bubbles popping), then reduce heat somewhat, stirring every few minutes. Let it simmer, with occasional tasting to see it it’s ready. For me, it’s ready when the texture of the vegetables is pleasantly smooth and yielding[3]. This usually takes 10-20mins.

Feeds probably 8.

[1]I’m specifically talking about things I can cook without a recipe. I did a lot of baking with my mom when I was growing up. Or perhaps I did a lot of eating cookie and cake batter. I’m not sure. It was a long time ago.

[2]I only ever start this dish with meat which is already cooked. There is more than enough moisture in the rest of the dish that it is not an issue. I tend to err on the side of caution with ground beef and chicken, as you want to make sure they are well-cooked. I cook them before adding anything else, so I can see that they are cooked.

[3]You may prefer your vegetables ‘al dente’. De gustibus non disputandum est.

3 thoughts on “Chili Perhaps con Carne

  1. Hmm, I’ve often wondered what would happen if I used whole tomatoes in a recipe. The first can of tomatoes I ever bought was diced, and they’re the only sort I’ve ever used.

    I now imagine in each stiry fry, and soup I’ve made, I could have used whole tomatoes with identical results.

    Crushed tomatoes are a mystery for another day.

    1. Thank you! I had forgotten the other way that tomatoes could be canned. Diced!

      I think diced would actually work better, as you wouldn’t have the ‘explosion of lava in your mouth’ issue that you often have with whole tomatoes.

      1. Indeed I have never experienced the `explosion of lave in your mouth` issue with diced! Give them a try. With this new information, I’m quite convinced that they’re the ultimate canned tomato.

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