I think its funny how there are months for everything, but I’m not going to lie and say I don’t enjoy the ones devoted to food. Well, unless it happens to be a food I don’t enjoy, like bananas. A little birdie told me October is National Chili month; I have to guess it’s due to the first visages of Fall (for most of the US states), temperatures begin to drop and people begin to crave hearty stews. Again, my guess.
Living in Houston, I’ve come to understand people here and all over the state of Texas are big on the whole chili thing. There are festivals and cook-offs celebrated throughout the Fall, aimed at finding the best recipe. There are as may variations to chili recipes as there are people in Texas, but one thing I’ve come to learn is that real Texas chili does not include beans.
MY chili isn’t so much chili as it is Chile con Carne. Not Texan, probably not Mexican, but the variation I learned from my mom. Another difference here, is that more often than not, in Texas chili is served with cornbread. My version tastes best atop a heap of perfectly cooked white rice. I made it for The Hubbz not long ago and he loved it AND he’s a native Houstonian! So there must be something good there.
As with all stews, aging is a virtue. The taste will improve and intensify every day after you make it. So why not give it a whirl?
Mi Chile con Carne
2 lbs ground chuck (80/20)
2 cps white onion, diced
Fresh serrano peppers, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin powder
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
3 cps red or pinto beans, cooked
2-3 cps beef broth
Sea salt & black pepper
- I don’t use a very lean ground beef for this, you won’t add any fat and you need some to cook the onions and develop some flavor.
- If I have the time and/or forethought, I will cook my own beans with 1 clove garlic and bay leaf, then use the cooking liquid instead of adding broth. I have used canned beans as often as I’ve used fresh, but I do rinse my canned beans and discard the canned liquid.
- You decide how hot you want it, add as many or as few serranos as you’d like.
Heat a large pan over high temperature and add the beef, breaking it apart as you drop it. You can leave it in marble-sized clumps as it cooks; add the garlic, cumin and Italian seasoning at this time. The liquid from the beef will sweat out, as it evaporates, the fat will be left behind and you’ll be able to brown the beef.
Lower the temperature to medium high and add the onions and serrano peppers. Continue cooking until the onions have softened and become translucent.
Add the beans and scrape off the goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then add the broth or liquid from the beans, enough to cover the beef. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper as necessary, but keep in mind that the saltiness will intensify as it simmers. Lower the temperature to low, cover and allow it to simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring it every so often.
Serve over white rice and top with sour cream and/or cheese.