Chili con Carne {Rustic With a Twist}

 

Chili con Carne is one of those dishes I love to make on cold days. And as it doesn’t get very cold in Florida, sadly I don’t make it as often as I used to. So when the temperatures do dip for a few days, I like to go “all-in” on this dish, making it from scratch using good quality ingredients like grass-fed beef. Sure, you can do the fast version using ready cooked beans and ground beef but I prefer the rustic texture and deeper flavors of this version.

CHILI CON CARNE {RUSTIC WITH A TWIST}

Ingredients:
1½ lb beef brisket, trimmed and sliced into 1″ thick pieces
500 ml hot coffee {the twist to this rustic recipe}
2 large dried ancho chilies
1 fresh chile serrano
2 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter) – I prefer it as the milk solids from normal butter don’t burn – Original Chili con Carne uses suet
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
2 fresh bay leaves
2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and passed through garlic press
¼ tsp of salt
¼ tsp of ground pepper
1 lb of chopped unsweetened tinned tomatoes
3 tablespoons molasses or very dark sugar
2 fresh red bell peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 lb of dry black beans if making the beans from scratch (preferred method) – See my notes below
1 tbsp of concentrated beef broth or 1 beef Oxo cube (if making beans from scratch)
OR: 1½ lbs of tinned black beans – see notes
Sour cream to serve (optional)

Instructions if you are using dry beans and making them from scratch:
You are going to soak your beans in water for 24 hours before you cook them (see notes below on why it’s important to soak your beans)
2 days before you want to serve your Chili con Carne, rinse your beans and soak them in a large bowl with about 2 inches of water covering the top
After a couple of hours, rinse the beans and freshen the water – Leave them to continue soaking for a few more hours
Rinse the beans again and soak them in fresh water for 12 hours or overnight
Change the water one more time and give them a final rinse before cooking them
In a crock-pot (slow cooker) or in a dutch oven, place your beans, beef stock and cover them with fresh water – you want about 2 inches of water above the level of the beans
If using a crock-pot (slow cooker) set the temperature on high and cook for 8 to 12 hours
Crock-pots vary widely so check on your beans every now and then for doneness – You want them to keep their form and not become mushy
Add water to the beans as necessary to avoid them from drying out
If cooking in a dutch oven, place over medium heat with the stock cube, cover and cook for about 3 to 5 hours checking regularly for doneness
Again, pots, hobs and ovens vary widely so you will need to use your own judgement as to when they are ready – Mine take a very long time to cook in the crock-pot (around 16 hours)
Add water to the beans as necessary to avoid them from drying out
When the beans are done, set them to one side to cool in their liquid

Instructions for the Chili con Carne:
Make the coffee and, while it’s hot, soak the dried chilies in it for about 15 minutes so they rehydrate
Put your largest casserole-type pan on a low heat
Add the ghee and start to fry the the cumin, paprika, oregano and bay leaves
Add the onions and fry them for 10 more minutes on medium heat until the they have softened
De-seed and chop half your fresh serrano chili
Chop the rehydrated chilis and keep the coffee to one side
Add the rehydrated chilis to the onion mixture and stir
Add the chopped fresh chili, cinnamon stick, garlic, salt and pepper and the chili-infused coffee
Stir, then add the tomatoes and the molasses (or sugar)
Add the pieces of brisket
Cover with a lid and simmer for around 3 hours, stirring occasionally
After a few hours use 2 forks or a potato masher to break the meat up and pull it apart
Once you’ve done this, add the diced peppers and the tinned or freshly made beans and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes with the lid off until the meat is more tenderized and falling apart
Taste, if you need more chili, finely chop and grind in a pestle the rest of the serrano chili and add it to the meat dish
Alternatively, add some chili paste or tabasco sauce if you don’t have any fresh chili or chili paste
Serve over boiled rice topped with a spoonful of sour cream

Notes:
The reason why it’s so important to soak and rinse the beans is to remove phytic acid which inhibits our ability to absorb nutrients.
Another reason, and to me the most important one, is that when you soak the beans before cooking, you eliminate the enzymes which can cause digestive problems. I find that beans from cans cause more digestive disruptions that those I soak and cook from scratch. This is a good website page on Dry Bean Cooking Basics.
Original chili con carne comes from Texas. It is made using chopped beef, not ground meat. It also uses suet, which I have omitted in my recipe. It doesn’t use coffee or paprika but I think they both add a nice richness to the dish.
This recipe has been adapted from Jamie Oliver’s America Cookbook.

© 2014-2015 Caroline’s Family Kitchen and CarolinesFamilyKitchen.com

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