Friday, February 12, 2016

Rick’s Chili con Carne

I have a long and storied history with Chili con Carne. As a kid I remember eating Denison’s and Nalley’s (as a kid this was a Pacific Northwestern brand). When I was in college, a cousin made Texas style chili with London broil using Carroll Shelby’s Chili con Carne kit. Texas style is all meat and sauce no beans. I had not experienced this.  

I started to make it myself with said Carroll Shelby’s Chili kit. One problem I did not read the directions for using other cuts than ground beef. In order to make it work I used steaks, sirloins, T-Bones, and Rib Eyes mostly. At the time my family was raising our own meat (beef, pork, lamb, mutton, chicken, turkey goose, and duck). When my parents found out, I was banned from steaks other than chuck and round. I learned to use those cuts and stew meat. I learned I had not been simmering the chili long enough. During that time I changed my canned chili brand of choice to Stagg as well. During my time with my ex, I changed to eating solely the bean-less variety. She had an aversion to beans.

Chili con Carne is not as some Americans think a Mexican dish. According to what I have gathered it was a dish made popular in Texas, after it was a state. In the 1850’s it was a brick of dried meat, suet (fat), dried chiles, and salt. This was then boiled in a pot to make chili. Canned chilis replaced the bricks with the new techniques in canning. By the early twentieth century, there were chili parlors all over Texas which had started in San Antonio. The confusion to the origins of the dish is, because the dish was made by people of Mexican descent. However they were U.S. citizens and their home was part of the U.S. when the dish was popularized. There are countless variations: Cincinnati Chili (over spaghetti), Texas Style (beef and typically bean-less), Chile Verde (green using tomatillos and pork/ this is considered a Mexican dish), and White Chili (poultry with white beans).


When I came back to cooking, I reintroduced myself to the Carroll Shelby’s chili kits. I used these kits in May 2015, July 2015, and September 2015. In July 2015 and September 2015, I added corn, mild green chiles, diced tomatoes, and various beans. Starting in September 2015, I was using ground turkey. In October 2015, I decided that I needed to make my own spice blend. I found a Carroll Shelby’s knockoff recipe that I used as my foundation. I finally made my version on November 25, 2015. My version included chipotle powder, ancho, powder, and Hungarian hot paprika. I removed the beer from the recipe. I do my best to avoid alcohol, no reason than I do not care for it. I made this close to Thanksgiving, because I wanted some familiar dishes. This and the Chile Relleno Casserole are definitely my comfort dishes.

I made it again in January of 2016. I wanted to be sure of my new recipe. I was more than pleased. I was gifted some gourmet hot dogs from Omaha Steaks. I made chili cheese dog burritos with them. I typically use two of the following beans in my chili: black beans, red beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans. I have thought of adding  calabacitas (Mexican zucchini), and chayotes. I have added zucchini, guajillo chili powder, California chili powder, black olives, sweet peppers, and New Mexican chili powder. Typical garnishes are corn chips (like Fritos), tortillas chips, sour cream, Mexican Crema (regular or sour), guacamole, avocados, and cheese.

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