You call it Chili, we call it Chilli Con Carne. Whatever you know this as, the alluring smell as it bubbles away on the stove is a universal language!! Whip it up as a quick meal, though if you have time to slow cook you’ll be rewarded with ultra tender beef and an extra luscious sauce….
Texans have claimed Chili as their own, even going as far to legally make it the official dish of Texas (!!?). Though apparently, there’s evidence that traces the origins of Chili to Spain. Imagine that! 🙂
Di-hard Texan Chili fanatics will tell you it’s illegal to add beans into Chili. They’ll also tell you there’s no canned tomato in it, it’s made with cubes of beef not mince/ground beef, and that it MUST be made using whole dried chilis, rehydrated then pureed.
Here is a good authentic Texan Chili recipe that I have tried, if you are so inclined to give the real thing a go.
So – this isn’t a hardcore Texan Chili. This is Chili as most people know it, as I had always known it until I visited Texas.
WHAT IS CHILLI CON CARNE?
The dish known simply as Chili in the US and Canada is known as Chilli Con Carne here in Australia and in the UK.
It looks like Bolognese and is cooked like Bolognese – except there’s a load of Tex-Mex spices added. It tastes like a saucy version of the good ole’ beef mince taco filling we all know and love (that is nowhere to be found in Mexico!!).
It’s supposed to be spicy – but I won’t judge if you can’t handle the heat!
QUICK – OR LONG AND SLOW
I really mean it when I say it’s cooked like Bolognese! The steps are exactly the same and most of the ingredients – except for the addition of the spices and beans.
Also like Bolognese, Chilli Con Carne can be simmered for just 20 minutes as a quick midweek meal which is delish, but if you have the time to slow cook for a couple of hours, you’ll really take it to another level. The beef becomes super tender, the sauce becomes richer in a way that only slow cooking can make it.
HOMEMADE CHILI POWDER
A note on Chili Powder– I have always made my Chili using a homemade Chili Powder rather than a store bought mix for two reasons:
- Chili Powder (one “L”) as it is known in the States and Canada which is commonly used in Chili recipes shared by American chefs / bloggers etc is not readily available outside of the States; What we call Chilli Powder (two “L”‘s) here in Australia and most of the rest of the world is pure ground chilli and it’s super spicy; and
- Chili Powder is a non spicy seasoning mix, not just pure ground chilli, and different brands differ in flavour and quality. So using a homemade Chili Powder allows for greater consistency in end result no matter where you are in this big wide world.
HOW AND WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHILI
Ah, the fun part – how to serve it!! While it’s perfectly acceptable to place a large pot of Chili in the centre of the table and everyone lunges forth armed with corn chips, here are other more respectable ways to serve it:
- In a bowl with Toppings, with a side of corn chips or warm tortillas for dunking (common in the States);
- Over rice with Toppings (sensible dinner option, typical in the UK and Australia);
- With Corn Bread on the side – try these soft quick ‘n easy Cornbread Muffins;
- Over hot chips with cheese sauce – Chili Fries!
- In baked potatoes;
- Over pasta;
- Topped with corn bread batter and baked – Tamale Pie!
- In soft rolls – Chili Sloppy Joes;
- On hot dogs – Chili Dogs!!! ↓↓↓
There’s a plethora of Topping options, though the first two aren’t really “options” (in my humble opinion):
- sour cream (mandatory in my world) or yoghurt
- grated cheese (also mandatory)
- fresh coriander / cilantro leaves, finely sliced green onions or chopped red onions
- diced avocado
- pico de gallo
- fresh slices of jalapeno or other chili of choice
For midweek meals, I serve it over rice because, as noted above, it’s the “sensible option”. For gatherings, Chili Dogs are terrific because nothing bonds people better than digging into messy food together – added bonus is that one pot of Chili goes far (makes ~ 20 Chili Dogs).
My favourite way to serve Chili is with corn chips with sour cream, cheese and coriander because it’s a crazy good combination. It’s like a deconstructed Nachos – but saucier. And y’all know I love my sauce!!! – Nagi x
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Recipe video above. Everybody's favourite Chili, nice and saucy! Made with a from-scratch Chili Powder rather than a store bought mix. Make a quick midweek version though when you've got the time, it's well worth slow cooking. See notes for Serving and Topping options!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 onion , diced (brown, white, yellow)
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), diced
- 1 lb / 500g beef mince / ground beef
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 800g / 28 oz can crushed tomato
- 14 oz / 420g can red kidney beans , drained (or other beans)
- 2 beef bouillon cubes , crumbled (Note 1)
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar (any type)
- 1/2 - 1 1/2 cups / 125 - 375 ml water
- Salt and pepper
- 1 - 2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste) (Note 2)
- 4 tsp paprika powder
- 5 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder (or onion powder)
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp oregano
- Rice, corn chips, tortillas (Note 5 for more)
- Sour cream, yoghurt, grated cheese, coriander./cilantro (Note 6 for more)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 1 minute, then add capsicum and cook for 2 minutes until onion is translucent.
Turn heat up to high and add beef. Cook, breaking it up as you go, until mostly browned.
Add Chili Spice Mix. Cook until beef is browned all over. (This step helps release extra flavour from the spices)
Add remaining ingredients, with 1/2 cup of water for Quick Cook or 1 1/2 cups for Slow Cook. Bring to simmer, then adjust heat per step below:
Quick Cook - 20 to 40 minutes, uncovered, on medium low heat so it's bubbling gently; OR
Slow Cook - 1.5 hours to 2 hours, covered, on low heat so it's bubbling very gently. (Note 3 Slow Cooker)
Adjust salt and pepper to taste just before serving.
Serve over rice, or ladle into bowls and serve with corn chips or warm tortillas on the side with Toppings of choice (Note 6). See Note 7 for more serving options. My usual: Either over rice or with corn chips, always with sour cream, cheese and coriander.
1. Beef cube: You can sub the water with 2 cups beef broth and skip the bouillon cube but will need to ensure you cook for long enough to reduce down.
2. Spiciness - Chili is supposed to be hot! Use 1 tsp cayenne pepper for a warm hum, 1.5 tsp for a nice tingle, or 2 tsp for medium spiciness. Best way is to start with less then add more at the end.
3. SLOW COOKER: This is spectacular made in the slow cooker. Just follow the steps in the recipe up to Step 4 using only 1/4 cup of water then tip everything into the slow cooker. Cook it for 6 hours on low in the slow cooker. Even 8 hours will be fine.
4. Storage - even better the next day and freezes fabulously.
5. Serving suggestions: The two most common ways to serve as a meal are:
i) Ladle into bowls and serve with Toppings of choice, corn chips or tortillas for dunking (or try this Easy Soft Flatbread);
ii) Over rice with Toppings
Other ways (see in post for more details): Chili Dogs (makes around 20, highly recommend slow cook to break down the beef into fine pieces), Chili Fries, Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Sloppy Joes, Tamale Pie (use this recipe which I have since found out is an actual recipe called Tamale Pie, not just something I made up!), tossed through pasta, pasta bake, with corn bread (make muffin size or one big one).
6. Toppings: Sour cream and grated cheese (both mandatory in my world), coriander/cilantro leaves, sliced green onions, diced red onion, Pico de Gallo, Diced avocado, sliced jalapeño or other chillies.
7. Nutrition per serving assuming 5 servings. Chilli Con Carne only, no rice or toppings.
Originally published June 2016. Recipe improved slightly in August 2018 with more sauce, and slightly better seasonings. Photos and post updated, recipe video added and of course a new Life of Dozer! ↓↓↓
LIFE OF DOZER
On the job – guarding the food.
And from the first time I published this post in Winter 2016. Yes, I said Winter. He doesn’t understand what that is.