Chili Con Carne

The cowboys of the Old West knew just what they were doing when they concocted chili. Nothing satisfies on a chilly winter night like this spicy one-dish meal.

I am what you may consider a chili “purist”… a simple yet spicy Chili Con Carne being my favorite.  The heat in my recipe comes from chili powder.  But I also add cumin and oregano to give the flavor more depth. 

I don’t normally add beans to mine, but if you like beans in your chili, no problem. Just add a drained can (15-ounce) of red kidney beans. 

This simple, old West dish is also an ideal dinner party option.  Chili is easy to make (the cowboys did it over a simple campfire), can be made ahead of time, and even freezes well.

Set out colorful bowls, encourage guests to serve themselves straight from the pot and then garnish their chili with their favorite toppings from your “chili bar.”  Sour cream, fresh cilantro, jalapenos, minced onion, shredded cheese, diced mild green chilies, and hot sauce all make great garnishes to any bowl of chili.  Plus your guests will have a ball concocting their own signature dish.

Enjoy!

Chili Con Carne

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup small-diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and small-diced green bell pepper (1 pepper)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 dash paprika
1 bay leaf
1 can (15-ounce) whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water

In a large stockpot over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, cayenne, paprika, and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the whole tomatoes to the pot, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the tomato paste, sugar, and water to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve hot.

Serves 6.

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Jennifer Chandler

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