Here’s an easy and very tasty recipe for “Chili Con Carne.” This is a great concoction for cold winter weather to warm up the body and soul. Or make a pot of “Chili Con Carne” next weekend and watch the football Super Bowl game — your family can help themselves to the chili and you won’t miss a football play. The recipe includes dried red beans –giving it a Louisiana “touch” — as certainly the dried version of red beans is used in traditional New Orleans cooking. I made this chili several times to tweak the recipe and the result is a pleasing blend of chili peppers and seasonings, tomatoes, kidney beans and beef. The chili has “bite” but no one component overpowers the other. I think I got this recipe “just right.” With the dried beans, this recipe takes several hours to cook — so start early in the day.
Chili Con Carne
The origins of “Chili Con Carne” are unclear. Certainly the dish originated somewhere in the Southwest, either Mexico and/or Texas. Over time, its popularity spread across the country. It is still immensely popular in Texas where it was deemed the “Official State Dish” in 1977. There is even an International Chili Society (founded in 1967) and with an annual national/international chili cookoff — by invitation only. (Guess I won’t be going.)
And there are endless opinions on what ingredients go into the chili. “Carne” means “meat” in Spanish so these recipes include some sort of meat. Should chili include beans? Here there are differing opinions and I’ve seen chili prepared both with and without beans. My recipe includes red kdney beans. Pinto beans are often used, too.
What is a Chili Pepper?
Here are the spices and peppers for my chili. I included both a generous amount of dry chili powder and several types of fresh chilis — bell pepper, jalapeno pepper (larger oblong pepper) and serrano pepper (smaller oblong pepper). After all, this is “Chili Con Carne.” And what exactly is a chili pepper? With a little research, I discovered that “chili peppers” are many types of peppers that belong to the “caspium” family. So, there is not a single “chili pepper,” but many types of peppers. They differ in their “hotness” as measured by the Scoville Heat Units (SHU). For example, sweet bell peppers (a member of the “caspium” family) measure “zero” and have no heat. Jalapeno peppers measure 2,500 – 8,000 SHU, serrano peppers measure 10,000 – 23,000 SHU. Both Tabasco peppers and cayenne peppers measure 30,000 – 50,000 SHU. Dry chili powder is usually a blend of chili peppers and may also include other spices such as cumin, oregano and garlic. The fresh jalapeno and serrano peppers added just a touch of “hot” to my chili con carne.
Here are other ingredients for my recipe. I used a course grind of ground beef specifically made for chili. Ground beef is made by grinding the beef through plates with different size diameter holes. I found this “ground beef for chili” at the butcher’s counter — it wasn’t in a pre-packed container. This grind of beef holds together better in the chili compared to a find grind. I also included a can of beef broth which accented the flavor of the chili.
Dried red beans
This recipe includes dried red beans which are easy to find in grocery stores in Louisiana. Some of our local brands include the “Blue Runner” brand and “Camellia” beans. Certainly, you can substitute canned red beans. However, dried red beans give a distinctive flavor and texture compared to the canned ones and they are not as likely to fall apart with cooking. The main disadvantage of using dried red beans is the length of preparation time. Even with soaking the beans, be prepared to have the chili simmer on the stove for two to three hours to cook the beans.
I pre-soak red kidney beans which helps leach out some of the components which cause intestinal gas. It also cuts down the cooking time just a bit. (Not all beans, such as lentils and black beans need to be soaked — but this helps when cooking with red beans.)
Please do not use the entire one pound package of red beans in this recipe. You will have a huge pot of red beans — more than you will ever need. Dried red beans triple or quadruple in volume after soaking. One cup of dried red beans, once soaked, will yield three to four cups of beans which is plenty for this recipe.
To soak red beans, add one cup of dry beans to a large pot and add enough water to cover the beans by two inches (probably six cups of water.) Bring the pot to a boil on the stove and boil for 10 minutes. Then turn the burner off, cover the pot and let the beans soak for one hour. Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans. The red beans swell in size although they are still hard. Here is my one cup of beans — after soaking — now three cups.
Easy Cook: Making the Chili Con Carne
I consider this to be an “Easy Cook” recipe. Once the beans are soaked, making the recipe is simple. Brown the ground beef along with the onion, peppers and garlic. Yes, I put all he vegetable seasonings in with the ground beef. This pot is going to cook for two to three hours, so the vegetables should all be well-cooked. Next add the rest of the seasonings, the beans, crushed tomatoes and beef broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover and let simmer on the stove. Check the chili con carne after two hours — mine needed to cook for three hours total to soften the beans. The tomatoes and beef broth cooked down making a thick stew. (If your chili becomes too thick, add a little water.)
That is it! This is really an easy one-pot meal. It is a delicious stew! Serve with crackers or tortilla chips. Let the pot simmer on the back of the stove and enjoy the football game.
Chili Con Carne with Louisiana Red Beans
- 1 cup dry, red kidney beans
- 6 cups (or more) water
- 1 lb ground beef, course grind for chili
- 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
- 1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth
- 1 (28 oz) can Centro crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp black pepper (optional)
Method and Steps:
- Wash, sort and drain dry, red kidney beans removing any foreign objects and pebbles.
- Add beans to large pot along with 6 cups water or enough water to cover beans by 2 inches.
- Bring pot to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.
- Turn heat on stove off. Cover pot and let beans soak for 1 hour. (May let beans soak longer — up to overnight, if needed.)
- Thoroughly rinse and drain the beans. Set aside.
- Add ground beef along with chopped onions, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, serrano pepper and garlic cloves to In large cast Iron pot or heavy pot. Cook and stir over medium heat until ground beef is browned and shows no signs of pink and onions are translucent.
- Add the soaked and drained red beans to the pot with ground beef mixture. Stir.
- Add beef broth and crushed tomatoes to the pot and stir to combine.
- Add the seasonings — chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, sugar and black pepper (optional.) Stir. Bring boil.
- Then turn heat down to low, cover pot. Let simmer on stove for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste to check for seasonings and if beans are cooked.
- If beans are still hard, cook on stove for an additional hour (3 hours total cooking time).