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Stews, Soups & Chili’s – The Series – Chili Con Carne

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    Stews, Soups & Chili’s – The Series – Chili Con Carne

    Last year I did a recipe write up on Troutman’s Texas Red Chili. Like all things Texas, there are ways of making chili that elicits a two-hour argument about what a classical bowl of chili should contain. Most Texans will certainly turn their noses up at the addition of beans. I remember as a kid growing up in the Midwest, navy beans were always an integral part of chili but a true Texas bowl of red would never be laced with such a thing. That said, in Mexico beans are included in their chili, probably as a cheap filler to cut down on the quantity of meat used, as well as their popularity and availability.

    At the time, my last Texas Red recipe also included tomatoes, which again are often considered sacrilege to a true bowl of the chili as well. So for Round #3 of the SSC Series, I’m going back to chili basics or the way it was originally intended to be made before it morphed into the varieties that we currently see out there today.

    So where did this stew originate and what were its first true ingredients? Chile Con Carne dates back probably to the time of the Aztecs. The first written account was of a Franciscan monk taking chili pepper seasoning used by the indigenous locals to spice up a variety of dishes, and combined it with carne or meat the Spanish brought to the new world, thus chili with meat was born. The first recorded recipe for the stew was during the Mexican-American War dating back to 1857. They took dried beef, suet, dried chili peppers and salt, which were pounded together, formed into bricks and left to dry, which could then be boiled in pots in an army encampment. It soon became a Tex-Mex favorite, usually among the working classes, for its relatively cheap but filling qualities.

    Chili Con Carne was thus introduced to the rest of the nation probably around the time of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition giving Americans their first taste of the stuff. In 1977 the Texas Legislature designated Chili Con Carne as the official dish of Texas; no beans and no tomatoes!!

    Chili has thus become a staple of American cuisine. As we know it has morphed into the use of a number of ingredients such as the aforementioned beans and tomatoes. There is also vegetarian, verde, white, chicken, canned and brick varieties. But let’s go back to the basic stew that was first concocted by Friar Bernardino de Sahagun and cook up a steaming, hot bowl of Chili con Carne!!

    Chili Con Carne

    Course. Lunch or Dinner. Main Dish. Beef.
    Cuisine. Tex-Mex
    Makes. 4 to 6 servings
    Takes. 45 minutes prep and 5-6 hours cooking


    2-pounds chopped chili or stew meat (I use chuck or short rib)
    3-dried ancho chilies
    3-dried guajillo chilies
    4-dried pasilla chilies
    2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce plus 2 tsp of the adobo sauce itself
    1 poblano pepper diced
    2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, de-seeded and diced

    1-large white onion chopped – reserve a portion for garnish
    1-whole garlic head, cloves peeled

    2-cups beef stock
    1-bottle beer (I use Negro Modelo)
    1 tablespoon cider vinegar

    2-tablespoons chili powder
    1-tablespoon cumin powder
    2-teaspoons cayenne pepper (adjust to desired heat level)
    1-teaspoon ancho chili power
    2-teaspoons of Mexican oregano

    1-tablespoon of Tony Chacheres seasoning

    For Garnish:
    Reserved chopped white onions
    Mexican shredded cheese

    Click image for larger version

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    Take the dried chilies and cut them lengthwise removing the stems and seeds. Place the chilies in a bowl of hot water to steep for about 30-40 minutes or until pliable.

    To a blender add the soaked chilies, the garlic cloves and the chipotle peppers with the adobo sauce. Add to that 1 cup of the soaking liquid and blend to a smooth puree. Strain the puree through a fine sieve pressing workable batches through with a rubber spatula until all the puree passes into a bowl. Discard the leftovers in the sieve and set the strained puree to the side.

    Fire up your smoker with a few chunks of oak, mesquite or your choice. Place your whole chuck roast still cold from the refrigerator onto the smoker to pick up as much smoke as possible. 1-2 hours should be sufficient, try to keep the IT below 130*F. This step is optional, although it adds another rich dimension of flavor.

    Next, cut the meat into bite sized pieces and brown in some lard or oil in a large pan (preferably cast iron) to establish flavor and color through the Milliard reaction. Season with the Tony C’s. Drain the liquid and fat and set the meat aside.

    Take and combine all of the seasonings (with the exception of the Tony C’s) into a bowl and set aside.

    In a large (minimum 5-quart) cast iron or enameled pot, add some cooking oil and sweat the onions and the fresh chilies until soft and translucent. While stirring add about 1/4 of the spice blend and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Increase the heat and de-glaze the pot with the bottle of beer and reduce everything by about half.

    Reduce the heat and add the chile puree bringing everything to a simmer. Continue to cook stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Next add the browned meat, the beef stock and 1/2 of the remaining spice mix into the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until the meat is fully tender and the stew is thickened, approximately 2-3 hours.

    Finally add the vinegar and the remaining seasoning, stirring to incorporate. Continue to simmer for about another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the chili to cool for about 30-60 minutes or as long as overnight to allow the flavors to meld.


    In bowls, garnishing with Mexican cheese and the chopped white onions. Serve with crusty bread or crackers and ice cold beer!!

    Click image for larger version

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    This is chili at it's very basic and some would say it's finest. No arguing that it's delicious, hearty and stick to your bones good!! But if adding tomatoes or beans or any number of things makes you happy, then by all means do so!! Make chili anytime but especially on those upcoming cold winter days.

    Troutman has a large bowl of Chili Con Carne in front of him with a cold bottle of Negro Modelo to wash it down, so I'm outta here!! Adios muchachos !!!!

    Sounds great, but I didn't know the TC seasoning had been around that long.


    • CaptainMike
      CaptainMike commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh yeah, I just read an article about a recent discovery at an ancient Aztec religious site where there's evidence the Aztec cannibalized Spaniards. I'm pretty sure they were using TC laced chile powder in their recipe for smoked and braised Spaniard. I know I would.

    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      You guys kill me

    • Mr. Bones
      Mr. Bones commented
      Editing a comment
      Gotta use summat, git ridda that gamey Spaniard Taste, I'd Havedta reckon

    Very nice, Steve. This is very similar to the chili I make, right down to the Negra Modelo, and it gets some pretty nice compliments from anyone that tries. I have a few secrets I do with mine, but I can't say what they are because Eric ecowper will probably rip me off to win the chili contest.

    I also remember dad getting a foil wrapped frozen chili brick back in the 60's that he would use as a base for his own chili. I remember it was pretty good, but I can't recall the brand.
    Last edited by CaptainMike; December 13, 2021, 04:12 PM.


    • Mr. Bones
      Mr. Bones commented
      Editing a comment
      C'mon, Please, Capn, an enrichen our lives with yer Chili Secrets...

      One thang I've done learned; takin a receipt to th Buryin Ground with ya don't prove nuthin, but that ya was an Obstinate, Cantankerous F**k, to begin with LOL

      Jus like ourselves, Future generations of Humons might well benefit from th wisdom of yer cookin tricks, should they incidentally, put they Dang Danged Cell Phones down, fer even a minute!!!"D

      We'uns is, (I'd havedta reckon), Mostly here, to Learn.
      Last edited by Mr. Bones; December 13, 2021, 06:36 PM.

    • Mr. Bones
      Mr. Bones commented
      Editing a comment
      Learn us'n's up, some, a'ight?
      Purty Please? with Sugar On Top???

    • CaptainMike
      CaptainMike commented
      Editing a comment
      I'll share right after I whup 'ol E-man at the chili cookoff, Bonsey!

      And while certainly not Obstinate, I am quite proud of my Cantankerous Old Coot badge! It matches both my FOG and my Curmudgeon with Oak Leaf Cluster tabs. I worked hard for them and earned every bit of it!
      Last edited by CaptainMike; December 13, 2021, 06:54 PM.

    Thanks for this, Steve. I’m sure you’ve seen frank X. Gilbert’s journalistic history, "A Bowl of Red." Fun read if not.


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      Yea the Gilbert read is a lot of fun. The Terlingua Chili cook-off is world renowned !!!

    • Texas Larry
      Texas Larry commented
      Editing a comment
      Oops, that’sTolbert, not Gilbert. My bad🙄

    Not sure I could get clean smoke running at 150 degrees on the smoker. How clean was your smoke, Troutman?



    • Rob whatever
      Rob whatever commented
      Editing a comment
      I just re-read your post. Internal temp is 130. Got it. Thanks.


    Well this is chili without the chilies but here's Matt Pittman at Meat Church's brisket offering video;


    • bbqLuv
      bbqLuv commented
      Editing a comment
      Matt does good,
      like his videos.

    • fzxdoc
      fzxdoc commented
      Editing a comment
      I ripped off his idea of using both the ground raw brisket scraps and fat as well as the cubed smoked brisket, made my usual con carne recipe, this time moving to the Crock Pot for 6 hours. Turned out beefily fantastic.


    Good stuff! Looks excellent!


      Sounds great - very similar to my chile. I love combining multiple chiles but you take it a step or two further! If I can find them always hope to have guajillos, ancho, chipotle, and serranos in my chile. I also differ slightly on the dried spices but maybe try a few of those mixes. I have also recently started cooking it in my Instant Pot after the smoke session and like the results that much better. Still need to find the right liquid balance though. Some experimenting is in order


      • Mr. Bones
        Mr. Bones commented
        Editing a comment
        Please, Brother! Do keep us Interested Folks in th Loop...

      I often get a combo plate at the local Mexican restaurant that includes chili con carne, but have not thought to pursue making it myself, without the tomatoes and other stuff.

      This recipe looks great, my main question as I put it into Paprika is the spice level. When I made "Troutman's Texas Red" the first time, all the women-folk complained about the heat level, and I dialed down the cayenne and most of the peppers to half last few times. Where is this recipe on the spice level compared to the Texas Red recipe, and what would you adjust to dial it down if needed? I can always add hot sauce at the table, but I can't take heat away for those who don't handle it well....


      • mnavarre
        mnavarre commented
        Editing a comment
        Leave the cayenne and maybe the chipotle, jalapeño, and serrano out. The rest of the chilies aren't really spicy. I find that if you smoke the meat the chipotles don't add much, their smokiness just gets lost under the smoke from the meat.

      • Troutman
        Troutman commented
        Editing a comment
        What mnavarre said. Personally I don’t think it’s that spicy at all but everyone has a different tolerance level. Mexican love that spicy kick, they would probably consider this bland !!

      Nice recipe. The layers of chile flavors get a big thumbs up from me. Thanks, Troutman !



        Dude....my pants barely fit now and you bring this along....
        Its now on the bucket, I mean barrel list, the bucket was over flowing years ago from the recipes of this site.
        My only problem may be finding some of the peppers you list up here in the great white north.
        I'm sure they're around up here, just gotta look harder.


          Looks damn good!



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