There is an in-depth article that appeared back in 2017 in Texas Monthly by John Nova Lomax about the origins of chili con carne in the United States.
It’s a great read, if you get the chance, and apparently there’s a lot of controversy about the recipe’s origins from historians, but I did love a quoted section from a Kansas newspaper reporter who visited Texas in the late 1800s.
“Speaking of hot things, at San Antonio they have a dish called chili con carne,” he wrote. “[…] It is awful seductive looking […] They always have enough to go around, for no stranger, no matter how terrific a durned fool he is, ever calls for a second dish. He almost always calls for a big cistern full of water, and you can’t put the water in him fast enough with a steam engine hose.”
Let me assure you that although I did decide to try this Texas staple this week, it is not spicy enough to call for cisterns of water. Instead, the recipe I tried has great depth of flavor and is easy to adapt, based on your own favorite spices.
This comes from the blog “Chili Pepper Madness” by Mike Hultquist. You can find the original post at https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/recipes/chili-con-carne/. I added lots of extra spices in my version. And, yes, despite the strong opinion of many Texans, I added beans, too.
Chili con Carne
- 2 ounces dried guajillo peppers
- 2 ounces dried ancho pasilla peppers
- 4 to 6 pounds chuck roast cut into one-inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 jalapeno peppers diced
- 20 cloves garlic minced
- 2 to 4 cups beef stock optional
- 2 15.5- ounce cans light red kidney beans rinsed and drained
- Start by heating a large pot with a lid over medium heat. Drop in the dried peppers, turning them every so often, until they are warmed through.
- Remove from the pot and remove the stems and seeds from the dried peppers and submerge them in very hot water (at least three cups) in a container with a lid. Let them sit for 20 minutes. When the peppers are done, combine them with three cups of the soaking liquid in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
- While the peppers soak, place the cubed roast in a large bowl along with the paprika, smoked paprika, oregano, black pepper, brown sugar, cumin, coriander and salt. Mix well to coat the meat evenly.
- Heat the oil in your large pot over medium heat and add the meat, onions and jalapenos. Saute for around six minutes or until the meat is nicely browned and the vegetables are softened.
- Add in the garlic and pepper sauce. If you already have a decent amount of liquid in the pot from the meat and vegetables, bring the mixture to a boil. If there isn’t much liquid or not enough to your liking, add beef stock to the pot and then bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a low simmer and place the lid on the pot. Let it cook for at least two hours or until the beef is tender.
- If desired, shred the beef at this point. Add in the beans, and add more beef stock, if desired.
- Serve in a bowl with rice, wrapped in tortillas, with chips or however you like it.
This was extremely delicious. We ate our chili con carne with some Mexican rice along with some corn chips on the side. When we ate the leftovers, we rolled it up in tortillas and ate it like burritos.
If you like peppers, you’ll love the flavors in this chili. It was fairly mild (I did deseed my jalapenos), if you’re not into something overly spicy.
And unlike the long-ago reporter from Kansas, we did go back for second helpings when we were finished. I guess that cements us as durned fools in our house.
This piece first appeared in print on June 23, 2022.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.