Recipe: Chili Con Carne with Beans

Chili Con Carne with Beans

Chili Con Carne with Beans

One bite of this chili has made conversation come to a screeching halt, followed by struggled utterances of “whoa…” It’s my go-to recipe for chili that has made all other chili recipes fall to the wayside. Juicy tender chunks of beef are napped in a rich, thick, beefy sauce full of deep chile flavor. This is not a chili con carne recipe for purists; Though not traditional, I love the slight acidity added by tomato, and the hearty dose of smooth flavorful beans makes this a satisfying one-bowl meal, no extra sides required. Yes it does require a modest investment of time and patience, but this is an excellent recipe to make ahead and freeze. So, if you have a busy week ahead, pull a few portions from the freezer to defrost in the fridge, and you can have it ready in minutes whenever you roll in.

Sauteing homemade chile powder with aromatics and spices

Sauteing homemade chile powder with aromatics and spices

Taking the extra steps to toast and grind whole dried chiles makes a major difference in the depth, complexity, and fruitiness of chile flavor, compared to store bought ground chile powders, and only takes a few minutes. The addition of the cornstarch slurry near the end of cooking will produce a more smooth, thick, and uniform gravy-like texture. For hotter chili, add a pinch of cayenne, a few dashes of hot pepper sauce, or crushed red chili flakes near the end of cooking.

Select dried chiles that are moist, pliant, and fragrant. If you can’t find ancho or guajillo chiles, here is a good resource (with pictures!) from for chile substitutions. 8 tablespoons of packaged ground chile powder may be substituted for the homemade ancho and guajillo chile powder, if desired.

Worth the wait

The chili can be served once cooking is complete, but will improve significantly after the flavors have melded and developed over the next 1-2 (preferably 2) days. The same is true in general for stews and chili. I wholeheartedly recommended the resting period. It will be well worth the wait!


Chili Con Carne with Beans

Adapted from The New Best Recipe, Chili Con Carne [1].

Serves 6.

Suggested accompaniments: minced onion, grated cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, fresh cilantro.

Equipment: baking sheet, food processor, mortar and pestle, large Dutch oven

3 medium dried ancho chile pods (3/4 ounce)
3 medium dried guajillo chile pods (3/4 ounce)
Place chiles in single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in 350-degree oven until puffed and fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. Cool, stem, and seed, breaking flesh into pieces. Place chile pieces into food processor bowl and process to a powder.
2 tablespoons cumin seeds Toast cumin in dry skillet over medium heat, stirring periodically, until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Crush toasted seeds with mortar and pestle. Add to food processor bowl.
2 teaspoons ground oregano
5 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup water
Add oregano, chipotle in adobo, and water to food processor bowl and process to a thick paste. Set aside.
4 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed of silverskin and fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons table salt
Toss beef cubes with salt to coat evenly and set aside.
8 ounces sliced bacon, roughly chopped Fry bacon in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and set aside. Pour most of rendered bacon fat into small bowl, leaving about 2 teaspoons in the pot.
Increase heat to medium-high. When fat begins to smoke, sauté the meat in 4 batches, drying meat thoroughly with paper towels before adding to the pot (if damp, the meat will not brown properly). When meat is well browned on all sides (about 5 minutes per batch), remove and set aside, wiping out Dutch oven if necessary. Add 2 teaspoons bacon fat and repeat with remaining batches of meat.
1 medium onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes
2 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 1/2 cups water
Wipe out pan, reduce heat to medium, and add 3 tablespoons bacon fat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chile mixture and sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add reserved bacon, browned beef and any accumulated juices, tomatoes, beans, lemon juice, and water. Bring to a simmer. Continue to cook until meat is tender (easily pierced with a fork) and juices are dark, rich, and starting to thicken, about 2 hours.
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar, packed
Salt and black pepper
If desired, stir cornstarch with about equal volume of water (2 tablespoons) until dissolved and uniform. Stir cornstarch slurry into the chili and simmer until smooth and thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, and adjust seasonings generously, adding salt and black pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or, for best flavor, cool to lukewarm, cover, and refrigerate for 2-5 days. Reheat gently and serve with accompaniments.

[1] The Editors of Cook’s Illustrated (2004). The New Best Recipe (p. 439-440). America’s Test Kitchen.

© 2012 by Revel Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

What do you think of this recipe? Did you make it through the two-day resting period, or cave :)?

3 thoughts on “Recipe: Chili Con Carne with Beans

  1. Pingback: Short on time and energy… and hungry? End the cycle | Revel Kitchen

  2. Mmm comfort food. Especially good right now with this cold morning. Will have to try toasting and grinding our own spices next time.

  3. I know, first gray morning around here in ages! It’s starting to feel like fall. This bowl of chili would be great to snuggle up with. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it turned out!

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