Chili recipe

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Chili, chili con carne or chili sin carne, is a stew, usually using beef or other meat, cooked with spices, herbs and one or more types of chili pepper (in powder, fresh, dried, liquid or smoked form). There are many recipes for chili, all based on the same principle, but each one using different types of ingredients. No matter what the recipe is, one of the secrets in making chili is to refrigerate it for at least a day or two; this will allow the flavors to develop and mature.
Preparation time: 15 minutes, Cooking time: 90 minutes, Serves: 4 - 6 
Chili is considered by many a Mexican dish. It seems though that it originated in the United States, and more specifically in Texas, that is probably why one of the things Texas is famous for, is the chili. According to wikipedia, the definition for chili is the following:

"Chili con carne (often known simply as chili) is a spicy stew-like dish. The essential ingredients are chili peppers and meat. Variations, either geographic or by personal preference, often include tomatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, beans, and other ingredients."

There are too many recipes for chili worldwide, probably more than any other dish. Chili also has different names and spellings, such as chili con carne, chili sin carne, chilli, etc. There are recipes for chili with beef, chili with chicken, chili with pork, chili with potatoes and other vegetables, even chili with roadkill! There are also many variations of chili recipes, that use the same base ingredients but different combinations of chili peppers and spices. The procedure for making chili is to start by sauteing the main ingredients and then add the herbs, spices and some kind of liquid, to help with the cooking of the meat, if used. The mositure needed to cook the beef is often provided by some type of liquid such as chicken stock, beef stock, red wine, beer, tomatoes, tomato juice, water or a combination.

The meat that is used in making chili is usually tough. For example for beef chili, shoulder or chuck cuts are used. There is no reason to use tender meat, which is more expensive, since chili is cooked slowly, over a low heat (simmer). This type of cooking tenderizes the meat. Typical cooking times for chili are 2 to 4 hours, sometimes even more. In many recipes, the herbs and spices are added in different batches, during the cooking time. There are chili recipes that use as many as 12 different spices, or even more.


4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 lb chuck, shoulder or round steak (or other type of braising cut)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp hot chili powder or cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp cumin powder
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
2 lb ripe tomatoes, skinned, roughly chopped
1 pint (600 ml) beef or chicken stock

1 3/4 lb red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To serve
Sour cream and corn tortillas or Mexican fried rice
Roughly chopped fresh coriander


Cut the steak into about 1/2 inch cubes or similar sized pieces, trimming off any excess fat. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or cooking pot until very hot (the pan should be big enough to fit all the ingredients). Fry the meat for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until well browned on all sides. Drain with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard any juices that result from frying the meat.

In the same pan or cooking pot, add 2 more tablespoons of vegetable oil, the onions, chili or cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and brown sugar and fry gently, over medium to low heat, for 8 to 10 minutes until the onions turn to deep golden and become caramelised.

Return the meat to the pan and stir well. Add the garlic, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and beef or chicken stock, raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about an hour and a half. Add the red kidney beans and continue cooking for 30 minutes more.  Taste and adjust with more salt, pepper and/or chili to taste. Finally, check the consistency of the sauce and if too thin, cook for a few minutes more on medium heat until you get the desired result.

Serve topped with fresh chopped coriander, sour cream and tortilla chips or fried rice.

Notes and tips

The chili can be refrigerated overnight and heated in the microwave when needed. It will actually taste much better if refrigerated overnight as this will allow the flavours to develop. You can also freeze some or all of it and use it as desired.

Use the following amounts of chili powder with the listed ingredients for the corresponding results:
1/2 tsp of chili powder - Mild
3/4 tsp chili powder - Mild to medium
1 tsp chili powder - Medium
1 1/2 tsp chili powder - Medium to hot
2 or more - Hot

Be careful when using cayenne pepper as it is hotter than regular chili pepper.

Variations to try

You can experiment with your chili by adding ingredients you like, removing ingredients you don't etc. Here are a few ideas:

Spices and herbs (typically used in chile recipes)
Mild chili powder
Hot chili powder
Cayenne pepper
Tabasco sauce
Ancho chiles, fresh of dried
Jalapeno chiles, fresh or pickled
Anaheim chiles, fresh or dried
Chipotle chiles
Garlic salt
Dried onion (minced onion)
Dried garlic
Bay leaf

Red wine
Beef stock
Chicken stock

Vegetables and other chili related ingredients
Pinto beans
Red kidney beans
Beef cubed, beef ground or a combination
Chicken cubed, ground or a combination
Pork cubed, ground or a combination

You can also combine different types of meat in your chili. If you use chicken together with pork or meat tough, make sure you add the chicken at a later stage since it takes much less time to cook than pork or beef. Whatever you do, remember to taste the chili and adjust with more spices and / or seasoning to taste.
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