Food, Meat, Recipes, Stew

Chili con Carne

Chili con Carne Ronit PensoChile con carne is one of my favorite cold weather dishes. Over the years, I came up with the following recipe, that became my go-to recipe, but even this one keeps evolving.My version is not quite the authentic Texan one. I prefer to use chopped meat rather than cubed meat, and to add ingredients  that are inspired by the wonderful Mexican Mole sauce. I love the addition of beans and tomatoes, which in many purist versions are strictly forbidden. I also like to finish the cooking with the addition of a bit of golden Tequila and to sprinkle it with fresh oregano and a squeeze of lime, to add freshness and cut down the heaviness of the dish.
One thing I’ve changed this time was the use of beer instead of my usual red wine and beef stock. This was inspired by THIS RECIPE from a wonderful blog that I’m sure you’ll enjoy visiting. I liked the slight bitterness the beer added to the dish, and will definitely use it again. Two other recipes that I’ve found inspiring can be found HERE and HERE.
Whichever version you may choose, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this wonderful and complex dish.

* Meat: as with any ground meats, I recommend grinding/chopping it at home. This way you have full control over the freshness and type of meat you’re using. You can also cube the meat if you prefer. Besides beef, another good option I sometimes use is Bison meat, but it is not always easy to find.
Mexican chocolate: this is not the kind of chocolate to enjoy eating on its own, as it  is quite granular and contains coarsely ground roasted cocoa nibs, sugar, nuts and spices. It can be found in many supermarkets or online.
Adobo Chipotle peppers:  Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapeno peppers, that need to be soaked prior to using. Using chipotle in adobo sauce makes for quicker preparation, while adding tangy-sweet flavors from the sauce.
Green chilies: I’ve used peeled and marinated jalapeno peppers, but fresh ones can be used as well.

Makes: 4-6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time:1½ hours
Chilling time (optional): overnight

1 Tbs coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 garlic clove
2 Tbs diced green chilies
½ cup chipotle chili in adobo sauce (see notes)
1 medium tomatillo, cut into quarters
2 Tbs fresh oregano leaves
1.35oz (40 grams) Mexican chocolate (see notes)
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cumin powder
½ cup packed fresh cilantro
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb (450 grams) roughly chopped beef chuck, preferably grass-fed (see notes)
1 can (15.5/440 grams) red kidney beans, drained and washed
1 cup diced tomatoes (1/2 can or fresh)
1 cup pale lager beer (or red wine, or beef stock)
2 Tbs almond meal
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 Tbs Tequila Gold (optional)
For serving: (optional)
Sour cream
Salsa Verde (see recipe HERE)
Grated aged cheddar cheese
Fresh oregano leaves
Lime quarters

1. In a small food processor with the metal blade, place the cumin seeds, garlic, green chilies, chipotle chili, tomatillo and fresh oregano leaves. Process for a minute and add the Mexican chocolate, cinnamon, cumin powder and cilantro. Process again to a rustic mixture.
Chili con Carne Ronit PensoChili con Carne Ronit Penso Chili con Carne Ronit PensoChili con Carne Ronit Penso
2. In a large wide pot, mix the onion with the oil, salt, pepper and cayenne. Sauté over medium-high heat, until the onion is golden. Mix and add the chopped meat. Fry, while mixing to break the lumps, for 5-6 minutes, until the meat browns nicely. Add the chili-chocolate mixture and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes and lower the heat to medium.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and beer. Mix and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add the almond meal, mix, cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Uncover the pot and cook for 30 minutes longer, mixing occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Chili con Carne Ronit PensoChili con Carne Ronit Penso
Chili con Carne Ronit PensoChili con Carne Ronit Penso Chili con Carne Ronit PensoChili con Carne Ronit Penso
The dish can be served at this point, but for even better taste, bring it to room temperature, cover and place it in the fridge overnight. Reheat gently the following day. Mix in the lime juice and Tequila, if using, just before serving.
Chili con Carne Ronit Penso Chili con Carne Ronit Penso
Serve as is, or with the condiments on the side.
Chili con Carne Ronit Penso Chili con Carne Ronit PensoChili con Carne Ronit Penso


73 thoughts on “Chili con Carne”

  1. I have a bag of almond meal but haven’t found a particular use for it. What does it contribute to this chili? I have hazel nut “flour” (meal, really), too. I make chili quite often, but this recipe is definitely going into the hopper for a day when I feel like putting on a real chef’s hat for a few hours! Have been threatening to acquire a meat grinder because of DH’s vulnerability. This may push me over the edge. Safeway will no longer grind a roast for me ad hoc.

    Virtual hugs,


    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope this will “push you to the edge” only when it comes to meat grinders! 🙂
      I have a meat grinder that I use often, but for this specific recipe I actually like to chop the meat in a food processor, with the metal blade.
      As for the almonds, they thicken the sauce a bit, without the heaviness of flour, and add a nice texture a flavor as well. You can use other nuts as well. I actually like the idea of hazelnut meal. I’ll try it next time. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ronit, this recipe sounds really good with the lime and the Tequila (olę). I’ve never had Chili with Tequila but I can imagine it tasting really nice and giving it a nice mexican touch. And thank you so much for linking my recipe, I really appreciate it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Myra, I’m glad you liked the recipe. It’s a pleasure to link your recipe, it looks so good!
      The addition of Tequila actually came by accident – while eating the chili and having a glass on one hand… I tasted it and loved it, and so the practice started! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Funny. I just had chili yesterday, but it’s probably nowhere near as good as yours. Probably because it didn’t have some of those gourmet ingredients you included in your recipe. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love the flavors. The Mexican chocolate and chipotle are nice additions. Of course, as a vegetarian, I would eliminate the beef or use an alternative. To me beans belong in chili. That’s why they are sometimes called chili beans!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Greg, I’m glad you liked my version.
      I used to make vegetarian chili for one of my clients, using soy “meat”, which was quite good.
      I was less successful when I tried using Seitan, as it cause a bad reaction due to the enormous amount of gluten it contains.
      Maybe your solution is the best – using nothing but beans… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. There is nothing “normal” about this recipe and I love it! I’ve used cornmeal, but never ground nuts. Fascinating! I understand the mole aspect – I think even Nigella uses chocolate in her chili. She’s fascinated by American food. I once almost won a chili cook-off (I was second to a giant local hospital) representing a liquor store – they gave me chile beer to use in the chili and it was incredible. Don’t remember the brand/maker, but there was a jalapeño in every beer! I’ve also used dark beer. This just goes to show that everything works! God i love cooking. Thanks for the link also Ronit!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mimi, I’m glad you liked my version.
      I’m not very familiar with Nigella’s cooking, but I’m glad to hear she’s fascinated with American food. It is unjustifiably snubbed too often.
      I love the idea of jalapeno beer – and cornmeal. Thanks for two more ingredients to play with! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Annika, I’m glad to hear! 🙂
      I’ve made this chili with soy “meat” and it was not bad at all. Also tried it with Seitan, but that was quite hard on digestion, probably because of the huge amount of gluten in it.
      But you could also try using just vegetables, maybe with different types of beans. I’m now thinking that maybe “meaty” mushrooms such as Portobello could add lots of flavor and texture… Hope this helps. Looking forward to see your version. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is very nice; I remember going to the only Mexican restaurant of my town in Brittany on Sunday evenings with the rock band I used to manage… Chili Con Carne everytime for me. I haven’t had it in such a long time, I will treat myself to your recipe soon. Further west, there is a little see side town called Concarneau; one of the chefs of the town designed a seafood version of the dish he called ” Chili Concarneau”… Yes, us Bretons have a great sense of humour! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Talk about a timely post, Ronit. First off, I so agree with your opening, “Chile con carne is one of my favorite cold weather dishes.” Our frigid temps have me thinking about making a pot of chili and just this morning I noticed 2 cans of chipotles in adobo sauce I also agree about grinding one’s own meat. I know exactly what I’m putting into that pot and have no concerns about old meat, excessive fat, or heaven knows what might otherwise be included. Your recipe uses a number of ingredients that I’ve never used in my chili and I look forward to giving them a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love dishes like chili because of its capacity to be so plastic. So many versions of a fundamental dish. Everyone could use the same ingredients and yet I dare say it would rarely taste the same. My own recipe has many of your same secrets, including the chipoltes for their smokiness, the Mexican chocolate, and, yes, I’ve long used beer. My own go-to, however, is a dark beer. Anythings with lots of extra malts for their own sweetness and which rounds out the beef flavour. Stouts and a good “brown” are good choices for others reading this. Happy holidays to you, Ronit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here, Dale. It is indeed such a versatile recipe. My “secrets” were gathered over the years and the recipe keep evolving as I go. I will take your recommendation for darker beer, though no doubt I will also go back to my red wine/stock as well. My recent addition was the Tequila and lime, which I highly recommend trying.
      It’s a work in progress…
      Happy Holidays to you too! 🙂


      1. Yes, there is definitely so many wonderful ideas and twists out there. I like the idea of the lime and tequila as well and it intrigues me … it has me especially intrigued, though, to try it in my white chili where I think it could take that dish to another level. Great idea and one I’ll experiment with as well. 🙂


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