Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chili con Carne

This is absolute bliss for me.  I love this stuff.  My Dad used to get Hormel chili in a can, and make me chili mac all the time, and unless you’ve had that, something is missing from your life.  It’s like the best spaghetti Bolognese you’ve ever had (ON CRACK!)  My addiction to chili started at a young age, and has progressed from the can to several different signature Dallas Bono recipes until I finally decided on this one as the absolute best, and definitive version.  I would usually make several quarts of this stuff and freeze it in pint baggies for later, and believe it or not I would intentionally cook this the day before eating it so the flavors could marry even more.  Sometimes I’d put on soft music, and candlelight, and I’d get all dressed up to get in the mood…  OK, I’m just joking about that, but you get the idea.  Here is the other thing.   A while ago I left the beans in the can, and just concentrated on the meat.  To me, beans belong in the baked bean pot (Which I adore with almost as much freaky sensuality as the chili) not in a good pot of con carne.  This recipe actually has three parts, first the meat, second the tomatoes, and finally the chili sauce.  It is complicated in some ways, and time consuming, but just like any other well planned courtship, the payoff can be mind blowing!

The meat

Ground beef is for hamburgers (which is my death row meal by the way) not for chili.  I feel very strongly about this.  And we want meat with lots of connective tissue here, so brisket, or flank or skirt steak works the best.  I prefer skirt steak.  Lamb stew meat, and pork shoulder.  Don’t use your prime cuts!!!  It won’t taste as good.  Much of the magic comes from the gelatinized connective tissue.

1 lb cubed skirt steak 
1 lb cubed pork shoulder 
1 lb lamb stew meat 
2/3 cup masa corn flour (don’t use corn meal, you want the masa, you can find it in the Mexican section of any grocery store) 
¼ cup homemade chili con carne chili powder (recipe attached) 
1 tbsp salt 
cracked black pepper 
1 sliced yellow onion 
4 cloves crushed garlic 
2 bay leaves (or avocado leaves) 
3 amber colored beers, or honey browns

toss the stew meat in all the ingredients except for the beer, onion, and garlic.  Heat 3-4 tbsp of corn oil in the bottom of a heavy cast iron dutch oven.  Drop the meat in to brown in batches.  There should be more space on the bottom of the pot than meat, we want a quick and high heat browning here.  Add a little more oil, and add the onions, let them sweat for about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute.  Once browned, remove the meat, and deglaze with the beer, making sure to scrape all the fond off the bottom of the pot.  Add the bay leaves.  Add the meat back in and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Continue to cook for 2 hours covered at a slow braise.  If you like you could transfer to a crock pot and keep on low for about 4-5 hours.


You could buy canned tomatoes, and if you are short on time, go ahead but you won’t get the complex goodness that the roasted tomatoes offer.  And yes, I know there are onions in two of these applications.  One is sweated, and one is roasted, the flavors will be very different.

4 lbs tomatoes (peeled, and de-seeded) 
1 sliced yellow onion 
1/8 cup chili powder mix 
generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil 
1 tsp kosher salt  

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Pour into a roasting pan and set in the over for 45 minutes to one hours until the tomatoes have given off most of their moisture and begin to caramelize.  Remove and scrape all the tomatoes out of the bottom of the pan.  Put the pan directly on the stove top, and pour ½ a beer in to deglaze the pan.  Pour the tomatoes and the deglazed juice into the chili pot.

Chili red sauce

6-8 New Mexico dried red chilis 
1 8 oz can tomato paste 
4 cups stock (beef or chicken) 
3 canned chipotle chilis with sauce
1 clove garlic 2 oz bitter dark chocolate

In a 250 degree oven toast the chilis for 10 minutes, flipping twice.  Remove and de-stem and de-seed.  Leave the seeds if you want more heat to the chili.  Put into a pot with hot oil, and continue to cook for 30 seconds.  Add the tomato paste and stir quickly allowing the tomato paste to begin to brown on the bottom of the pot.  Add the garlic, chipotles, and the chocolate and add the stock continuing to stir.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Let cook, and puree in a blender until smooth.  Add to the pot of chili.

Season the chili pot with salt if needed, and enjoy.  For chili mac, make extra red sauce, and toss a cup in with a lb of boiled spaghetti.  Pour the chili over the top and add cheese and chopped onion.

Homemade chili powder

6 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
6 cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
6 dried arbol chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
6 dried chilis de mulato
Op. 6 - 8 dried thai chilis for added heat
4 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
4 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Place all of the chiles and the cumin into a medium nonstick saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, moving the pan around constantly, until you begin to smell the cumin toasting, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.

Once cool, place the chiles and cumin into the carafe of a blender along with the garlic powder, oregano, and paprika. Process until a fine powder is formed. Allow the powder to settle for at least a minute before removing the lid of the carafe. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. 



  1. This looks amazing, and something my family would totally be into- but a question.. what would happen if the corn flour were left out? Or is there a non corn based substitute? I realize it may not be as sublime, but I have to work around Doug's corn allergy. ;D

  2. Just use regular flour. The corn does add a specific taste, but is also there as a thickening agent, so another flour would have to be used.