The home of Chilli Con Carne.
And I’m happy you’re here, my friends.
What this site is about?
Its about fun and its about flavour!
But mostly this is a site about EATING!
And to prove it, why not try my personal favourite recipe.
There are links to all the other recipes on the right. Please, have a look.
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New to cooking? These pages might help.
Want to start off simple? Well this recipe is a sure fire winner!
An Easy Chilli Recipe
- A couple of tablespoons of oil for cooking (I use olive oil)
- A large onion, chopped.
- Four cloves of garlic, chopped.
- Two chilli peppers (I like Scotch Bonnets for a real kick and I keep the seeds in). Chopped.
- 1 kg beef mince.
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano.
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin.
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder.
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- Salt to taste
- 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes (don’t drain)
- 1 400g tin red kidney beans. (do drain)
- 1 beef stock cube
- Water to cover
- In a large pan, heat the oil.
- Add the onions, garlic and fresh chillies and cook gently for five minutes.
- Turn the heat up a bit and add the beef and all the dried spices, peppercorns and salt. Cook for another five minutes. The beef should have a good colour.
- Add the tomatoes, kidney beans and enough water to cover the mixture (you can always top it up during cooking) and the crumbled stock cube. Season if required.
- Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about an hour until the beef is quite tender (taste it). Add a little water during cooking if the mixture becomes too dry.
- Serve on boiled, brown rice.
- Its that simple. Its delicious and frankly foolproof. This recipe is very often the starting point for other, more interesting recipes.
You may be wondering exactly what is Chilli Con Carne?
The name originates from the Spanish meaning ‘Chilli with Meat’. Meat in this case is usually beef but in fact any meat may be legitimately used. It is a stew with a soupy texture and it is very common to include either Beans or Tomatoes and often both.
A word about spelling
There are two common, and both valid spellings. Either:
Chili Con Carne
Chilli Con Carne.
Both are acceptable with the latter form being the Americanisation. On this site we use both interchangeably.
Origins and History of Chili Con Carne
Ok so now that we’ve cooked one how about a little bit of background. As Bertrand Russell famously said:
‘There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.’
Although many people associate Chilli with Mexico, this is in fact not a likely origin. Few citizens of Mexico would recognise the dish above as inherently Mexican.
Charles Ramsdell, a writer from San Antonio in an article called San Antonio: An Historical and Pictorial Guide, wrote:
“Chili, as we know it in the U.S., cannot be found in Mexico today except in a few spots which cater to tourists. If chili had come from Mexico, it would still be there. For Mexicans, especially those of Indian ancestry, do not change their culinary customs from one generation, or even from one century, to another.”
In fact it seems Mexican may have little regard for the dish, the Diccionario de Mejicanismos, published in 1959, defines chili con carne as (roughly translated):
“detestable food passing itself off as Mexican, sold in the U.S. from Texas to New York.”
The more likely origin (although it is conceivable that combination of ingredients maybe found elsewhere in the world) is that of frontiersmen in American during the 19th century. This kind of chilli consisted of dried beef, dried chillies and salt pounded into ‘bricks’ that were later boiled in pots.
However it must be noted that similar combinations of ingredients have been attributed to the Incas, The Romans and the Greeks.
I have tried repeating this chilli brick, but I confess with little success. I’m glad I’m not a frontiersman living off that!
However I do love this supposed quotation.
“Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili.”
Alleged dying words of Kit Carson (1809-1868), Frontiers Man and Mountain Man
It is known that the The San Antonio Chili Stand, at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, helped to introduce the dish to people from parts of the world outside Texas and it seems that the dish grew in popularity from humble beginnings in San Antonio.
So in essence the dish is Texan and is to this day the Texan National Dish. Yeee Haa!
You will find much debate amongst aficionados as to the exact nature of Authentic Chilli Con Carne, but it seems that most would exclude both beans and tomatoes!
Here, I found a quotation for what may be close to an original Chilli.
Cut up as much meat as you think you will need (any kind will do, but beef is probably best) in pieces about the size of a pecan. Put it in a pot, along with some suet (enough so as the meat won’t stick to the sides of the pot), and cook it with about the same amount of wild onions, garlic, oregano, and chiles as you have got meat. Put in some salt. Stir it from time to time and cook it until the meat is as tender as you think it’s going to get.
If this tweaks your interest you might visit the Wikipedia Page, although its not especially detailed or complete.
A much finer and more detailed attempt can be found here.
What to serve with Chili Con Carne?
Here we find less agreement.
Certainly corn bread is a favourite as is rice.
The humble jacket potato, dripping with butter, filled with chilli and topped with cheese abounds.
Fajitas and other unleavened breads make a fine mopping-up accessory.
I even occasionally like it served with chips :S.
If its a fiery chilli, and lets face it it probably should be then nothing soothes like a dollop of sourced cream or perhaps a natural yoghurt infused with cucumber or mint.
Personally I’m not a great fan of ‘carbing up’ meals. For one thing it makes you FAT. And frankly I don’t dig the bloated feeling that follows.
Why not try something different?
Steamed, shredded cabbage (with chilli flakes and spring onions) is a nice, healthy counterbalance. I’ve also enjoyed chilli served in a lasagne-style dish where the layers are made from slices of celeriac.
Don’t worry, I’ll be suggesting some alternatives throughout the recipes.
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