The chili I grew up loving had lots of beans, a mild savory flavor, came in a red a yellow can and was delicious on chili dogs. It was fine and in a pinch, I still use it when I crave a chili dog or burrito filling.
As I grew older and my wandering taste buds exposed me to more authentic foods, I became a fan of Texas-style chili. I like beans, but not too many. This chili had what I really liked- meaty deliciousness and a bit of heat.
The authentic chili con carne is originated in the 1800s along the Texas cattle trails. Range cooks would commonly prepare a pot of handy fresh beef and wild-grown seasonings from along the trail, chilies and wild herbs, for the cowhands. Before long, the popularity of this spicy stew spread throughout the trail towns to the cities.
“In the 1880s, a market in San Antonio started setting up chili stands from which chili or bowls o’red, as it was called, were sold by women who were called “chili queens.” A bowl o’red cost diners such as writer O. Henry and democratic presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan ten cents and included bread and a glass of water. The fame of chili con carne began to spread and the dish soon became a major tourist attraction. It was featured at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893 at the San Antonio Chili Stand.” National Chili Day
To Texans, chili is all about the meat and the seasonings. But I’m no purist. At the risk of offending your Texan friends, you can add cooked kidney or black beans, or chopped canned tomatoes to this chili. The level of heat is a personal choice and The chart below can give you some directions. Ancho chilies are relatively mild, so if you want a hotter chili, add some cayenne pepper and jalapenos.
In the week or so prior to making chili, I put aside leftover pork and beef pieces and freeze them for use in my chili.
1/4 cup ground ancho chili pepper
1 tablespoon ground chipotle chili pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup massa flour or cornmeal
2 lbs ground beef
8 ounces (about 8 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and par cooked
8-10 oz leftover meats (I’ve used roast pork, steak, chorizo, kielbasa, roast beef and ham in various incarnations of this carne feast).
2 small yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3 jalapeño chiles, cored, seeded and finely diced
4 cups ( 32 oz) low sodium beef broth
2 cups water water, plus more for the chili paste and deglazing the pan
1 28 oz can of canned crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon molasses or brown sugar, salt to taste 1 tablespoon peanut butter
Peel and chop the onion to measure 1 cup. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
In a large saucepan, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked. strain off extra liquid. Return beef mixture to saucepan. Into the beef, add broth, stir the chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper sauce and tomatoes with their liquid.
Heat the mixture to boiling over high heat. Once mixture is boiling, reduce heat just enough so mixture bubbles gently. Cover with lid; cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pan for burned spots.
Stir in the beans with their liquid, peanut butter and massa/cornmeal. Heat to boiling over high heat. Once mixture is boiling, reduce heat just enough so mixture bubbles gently. Cook uncovered about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness.
Top with a dollop of sour cream and some chives of chopped scallions.