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Chili con Carne


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This is probably beneath the interests of the real gourmets out there, but I'm looking for chili recipes. You see, the last time I tried making chili (just using packaged chili seasoning - gasp!) it was so salty I couldn't eat it.

So, in my garden I am growing a variety of peppers, hot and sweet, as well as a variety of tomatoes. My plan is to experiment with my home-grown ingredients to make a well-seasoned, but saltless, chili. Ideas, anyone?

BTW, this is my first post...



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welcome to e-gullet, Tom

we're not all gourmets on this site, altho we do all like (or love) food and cooking, etc.

I'm sure Wilfrid can give you a recipe for chili, I just don't have one on hand (or much experience making it) -- but one thing I do know is to never use a packaged mix, too much fake stuff if'n you know what I mean


good luck in making the chili

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Breathes there a "real gourmet" with soul so dead that never to himself has said, "Give me a heapin' (real gourmets probably don't say heapin') bowl of chili..."

Back in my restaurateuring days, we received a coveted "Best of Philly" for our chili.  It was an adaptation of Chasen's recipe.  We added a heavy, cheap red wine and fired it up a bit more.  Covered it with a crust of melted cheddar and served it with a jar of sweet hot Indonesian Sambal Curry Paste which we relabeled "secret hot stuff."  Here's the Chasen's recipe:

Chasen's Chili

Another of my favorite recipes came from Nieman Marcus, I think.  Back in the 70's there was an article in Gourmet or one of the daily's about four great chilis.  Chasen's was one.  Another was a chocolate flavored, sort of a molé based chili credited to Nieman Marcus.  Did a search and found something that looks similar:

Chocolate Based Chili

Either one can probably be made without salt, and supplimented with your crop of hot peppers.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."



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Thanks for the leads, Holly! I'll be trying Chasen's (with your modifications) for sure. I'll probably add a bit of improvisions myself: some jalapenos, seranos, habaneros, in addition to (or instead of?) the bell pepper. We like it hot in Austin! Also, of course, I will use fresh roma tomatoes instead of canned.

Since my tomatoes are still green, it will be a couple/three weeks or so before I try it. I will definitely let you know how it turns out.

As for the chocolate one, hmmmm. I have a hard time envisioning chocolate in chili, but I try (almost) anything once!



PS: Keep 'em coming folks. I'm going to have a chili-cooking adventure this summer!

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Thanks, Mark. I'll give it a try. I am, though, a bit worried about the 4 beef boullion cubes. Those little cubes are little more than flavored salt. I ought to be able to leave them out, don't you think?

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I'm sure Wilfrid can give you a recipe for chili...

I wish.  I was bemoaning my lack of experience of anything resembling authentic chili on another thread recently.

There is a lot of interesting reading about chili and what makes a good one on this thread here.

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I don't know if Texans would be interested, but I make a great tofu chili.  The trick is to cube and fry the tofu first -- not too much, though.  You want it to crumble a bit so the pieces act like ground meat and add a little body.  I throw in a can of tomatos and flavor/thicken with good portions of coriander (not much flavor, but a good 1/4 cup or so to thicken the chili), cumin, garlic power, onion powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, etc.  People love it-- even devout carnivores.

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Dstone:  I've tried similar chili.  However, we found the best way for us was to slab the tofu, fry fully, and ladle the chili under as an overabundance of sauce, leaving one free to garnish said slab of tofu with roasted or raw chilies, a colorful dusting of cumin and dried tomato or, my favorite, a roasted and stuffed anaheim chili not overstuffed with queso fresco sliced for presentation.


This really doesn't sound like chili.

HERE are my chili feelings, pasted from another post.

Probably should have posted on the other thread, but texture is key.  Most any locale uses all beef ground to a paste.  No matter the quality or degree of grinding, this has one major flaw; consistently uninspired, usually dry, chili.  I like a 2 pt beef 1 part ground pork ratio, much to my fellow Texans' chagrin.  My solution to envigor the texture; shave the beef, or at least accomplish a rough chop.  Cubing the beef requires a sublime cut of meat because the beef flavor and texture dominates certain bites, marring the quality if the cut is anything less than sublime.  By shaving the beef, you can achieve various textural inconsistencies while not dominating parts of the dish.

Another problem with most chilis (at least on my palate) is the failure to a) use enough and b) sufficiently sweeten the onions.  The "sweet with the heat" aspect is, in my opinion, too often ignored by the chili-head and tomatoes can't unanimously fill the bill.

My final beef is with seasoning.  Most chili powders I have been able to get need alot of help.  Many accomplish this by killing all flavor with cayanne.  Or an overabundance of sauteed garlic.  In my opinion, a heartier than average dose of cumin is the only medicine that will compliment, and raise, the flavor of chili powder without destroying it and carrying the byproduct of an unexpected dimension.

Glad this finally found home.

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Tofu? Nah, "real Texans don't eat..." Just joking. Actually, my wife loves the stuff, and I enjoy it on occasion myself. For sure it will make a healthier chili as opposed to using beef and/or pork.


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Thanks, Mark. I'll give it a try. I am, though, a bit worried about the 4 beef boullion cubes. Those little cubes are little more than flavored salt. I ought to be able to leave them out, don't you think?

As with any recipe, this is more of a guide than an equation, feel free to adjust the ingredients as you see fit.  Frankly I don't think that adding the equivalent of a teaspoon of salt to 4 pounds of meat and more than a quart of liquid is a real concern.  I feel that in recent years the western world has vilified salt as being somehow toxic, and has regarded it's use as an ingredient with undisguised disdain.

That being said, I have to admit that I generally don't use salt, and in savory dishes that might need some I generally use soy sauce.  Even on corn on the cob I use unsalted butter and fresh ground black pepper...

Good french fries do require salt tho...


Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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I've made chili a number of times, but don't really have a recipe per se.  It's probably been a little different each time.  That's part of the beauty of chili -- put a bunch of stuff in a dutch oven and cook it long and slow.  Here are some of my thoughts on ingredients:

Meat -- I like a mixture of different textures, some ground beef or coarse chili grind, some small chunks and some larger chunks.  The best meat is flanken-style short ribs taken off the small bones, but it can get pretty pricey if that's all you use.  Chuck works well too.  Cut it into 1 inch chunks.  Put 1/3 of it in food processor and pulse for 8-10 seconds.  Put another 1/3 in food processor and pulse for 3-5 seconds.  Keep the final 1/3 intact.  Brown the meat and set it aside.

Chili powder -- Some say it's best to grind your own powder, but it's just too much work.  You get what you pay for with pre-made chili powder, so spend a little more.


Chili peppers -- It doesn't really matter what kinds of fresh chilis you use, just make sure you take into account their relative heat.  I usually use serrano or jalapeno.  I also love to add chipotles.  I find it easiest to use canned chipotles in adobo sauce, which I then dice or put in a blender.

Tomatoes -- Canned tomatoes are the easiest to work with and because of the long cooking times, I wouldn't bother with fresh tomatoes.  Muir Glen makes a fire roasted diced tomato product that gives the chile a nice smoky flavor.  



Cooking liquid -- You can use water but chicken stock or canned chicken broth makes for a much richer and more complex chili.  I usually also add some red wine or dark beer.

Peanut butter and chocolate -- Some of the other posters have also referred to chocolate chili.  I add some unsweetened cocoa powder -- it gives the chili a little of a mole flavor.  I also like to add some peanut butter, which gives it an earthy flavor and also helps to thicken the sauce.

Beans -- I make the chili without beans because some in my family don't like them.  Those of us that do add canned kidney, red and/or black beans when we reheat it up.

Sour cream

Cheddar cheese.

It may seem like a "kitchen sink" approach to chili, but it all makes an incredibly rich and complex chili.  I usually serve it on rice so that the chili goes a little further.

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For sure it will make a healthier chili as opposed to using beef and/or pork.

Speaking of healthy alternatives, if you don't want to use meat or replicas thereof you can soak bulgur wheat in orange juice and add it to a bean chili for texture.  I've gotten used to bringing vegetarian chili to potlucks so everyone can eat it, and the bulgur wheat has fooled a number of meat-eaters!  It's a good dish, but to me chili really means meat, with or without beans... that's the Texas part of my heritage talking, I guess!

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Notes From An Inexperienced Chili Taster Named Frank, who was visiting


Recently I was honored to be selected as an Outstanding Famous Celebrity

in Texas, to be a judge at a chili cook-off, because no one else wanted

to do it.  Also the original person called in sick at the last moment

and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking

directions to the beer wagon when the call came.  I was assured by the

other two judges (native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that

spicy, and besides they told me I could have free beer during the

tasting, so I accepted.

Here are the scorecards from the event:

Chili #1 Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili

Judge One: A little too heavy on tomato.  Amusing kick.

Judge Two: Nice, smooth tomato flavor.  Very mild.

Frank: Holy smokes, what is this stuff?  You could remove dried paint

from your driveway with it.  Took me two beers to put the flames out.

Hope that's the worst one.  These people are crazy.

Chili # 2: Arthur's Afterburner Chili

Judge One: Smoky (barbecue?) with a hint of pork.  Slight jalapeño tang.

Judge Two: Exciting flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

Frank: Keep this out of reach of children!  I'm not sure what I am

supposed to taste besides pain.  I had to wave off two people who wanted

to give me the Heimlich maneuver.  Shoved my way to the front of the

beer line.

Chili # 3: Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili

Judge One: Excellent firehouse chili!  Great kick.  Needs more beans.

Judge Two: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of red peppers.

Frank: This has got to be a joke.  Call the EPA, I've located a uranium

spill.  My nose feels like I have been sneezing Drano.  Everyone knows

the routine by now and got out of my way so I could make it to the beer

wagon.  Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front

part of my chest.

Chili # 4: Bubba's Black Magic

Judge One: Black bean chili with almost no spice.  Disappointing.

Judge Two: Hint of lime in the black beans.  Good side dish for fish or

other mild foods, not much of a chili.

Frank: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to

taste it.  Sally, the bar maid, was standing behind me with fresh

refills so I wouldn't have to dash over to see her.

Chili # 5: Linda's Legal Lip Remover

Judge One: Meaty, strong chili.  Cayenne peppers freshly ground adding

considerable kick.  Very impressive.

Judge Two: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato.  Must admit

the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

Frank: My ears are ringing and I can no longer focus my eyes.  I farted

and four people behind me needed paramedics.  The contestant seemed hurt

when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage.  Sally saved

my tongue by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher.  Sort of

irritates me that one of the other judges asked me to stop screaming.

Chili # 6: Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety

Judge One: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili.  Good balance of

spice and peppers.

Judge Two: The best yet.  Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and

garlic.  Superb.

Frank: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous

flames.  No one seems inclined to stand behind me except Sally.

Chili # 7: Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili

Judge One: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

Judge Two: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef threw in canned chili peppers

at the last moment.  I should note that I am worried about Judge Number

3, he appears to be in a bit of distress.

Frank: You could put a hand grenade in my mouth and pull the pin and I

wouldn't feel it.  I've lost the sight in one eye and the world sounds

like it is made of rushing water.  My clothes are covered with chili

which slid unnoticed out of my mouth at some point.  Good, at the

autopsy they'll know what killed me.  I've decided to stop breathing,

it's too painful and I'm not getting any oxygen anyway.  If I need air

I'll just let it in through the four inch hole in my stomach.

Chili # 8: Helen's Mount Saint Chili

Judge One: This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor

hot.  Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 fell and

pulled the chili pot on top of himself.

Judge Two: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all,

not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.


(Editor's note: Judge 3 was unable to report)

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Very impressive chili notes!

A couple of more thoughts on making chili.  If the chili seems too thin, it will thicken nicely if you add some finely ground cornmeal (or masa harina) which adds a flavor note that I think is subtle but important.  If necessary, I  add a little more liquid in order to be able to add the cornmeal to achieve the proper balance of taste and texture.  I always use unsweetened cocoa powder in chili, adding it pinch by pinch, until I notice a very slight difference in flavor, but nothing actually identifiable as chocolate.  I do the same with gorund cinnamon, but use even less.

I have had great success using ground turkey instead of beef.  Semi-vegetarians (non red-meat eaters) scarf it down.

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This is the best chile I've ever made, bar none.  It  is the Cafe Annie recipe and worth every bit of effort.  Please try it sometime.

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp dried oregano

3 tbsp vegetable oil

3 lb beef chuck, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

5 fresh jalapenos (preferably red), stemmed, seeded and chopped

3 tbsp masa harina

2 tbsp ground pasilla chile powder (Ancho chiles, toasted and ground)

2 lbs tomatoes (fresh or canned), seeded and chopped

1 dried chipotle

1 dried new mexico chile

1 bottle (12 oz.) dark beer, such as Negra Modelo

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate

4 cups water or homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth (my note - homemade beef broth improves this greatly)

Toast the cumin and coriander in a small skillet over low heat and grind in a spice grinder.

In a large, heavy-based skillet, Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil until very hot. Brown the meat in the oil in batches (add more oil as needed), being careful not to crowd the pan or the meat will stew in its own juices and not brown. Transfer the browned meat from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels. Don't clean the skillet after browning the meat.

To the same skillet, add the onion, garlic, jalapenos, masa harina, pasilla powder, the toasted ground cumin and coriander and dried oregano. Stir over medium-high heat until the onion begins to soften, 5 to 8 minutes. Return the meat to the skillet; add the tomatoes, whole dried chiles, beer, chocolate and water or stock. Simmer until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Remove the whole chiles before serving.

My notes - I toast and grind the whole dried New Mexican chile and add it with the ancho powder, and use a canned chipotle in adobo instead of the dried (because it's what I have on hand).  Makes an outstanding chile.

I hope you try this recipe - it is outsanding!

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Have you tried Wick Fowler's chili mix? It has separate packets for the various herbs and spices, including the salt so you can leave it out. It's not bad. Main thing is, make chili the day before: let it sit overnight for sure. Use good quality beef ( I sometimes use TVP instead for a vegetarian chili).

Drink lots of beer. It'll taste good.

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Ok, I finally tried one of the recipes. My wife and I got tired of waiting for our tomatoes to ripen, so she went to the store with three chili recipes in hand, planning to get the ingredients for the recipe according to what was most readily available. (The plan was for her to buy, me to cook)...

Anyway, she came home with the stuff for Terrie's chili. Three and a half hours later, I had my first truly home-made chili.

With all the peppers in it, I half expected to have an experience not unlike that of gastrotex. Not so in the least.

It was truly outstanding. To put "outstanding" in it's proper context, I've lately been going to the Texas Chili Parlor, which is kind of an institution here in Austin. Needless to say, they specialize in chili, and it's good. Well, Terrie's elevated my chili experience to a whole different level. Since I'm more or less a novice in the kitchen, I can't really tell you why it's so good; it just is. Try it...

I'm still looking forward to trying Holly's modification of Chasen's chili. To be continued...

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It was truly outstanding. To put "outstanding" in it's proper context, I've lately been going to the Texas Chili Parlor, which is kind of an institution here in Austin. Needless to say, they specialize in chili, and it's good. Well, Terrie's elevated my chili experience to a whole different level. Since I'm more or less a novice in the kitchen, I can't really tell you why it's so good; it just is. Try it...

This is often the case with homemade Vs commercial.  I've found this true of BBQ also.  The worst hommade BBQ is nearly always better than the best commercial BBQ, with a few exceptions at some authentic places in the Carolinas and Texas.


Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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  • 1 month later...

One of my favorite Chili's is "Black Bean Chicken Chili"

I use lotsa fresh chopped cilantro.

I also throw in a scoop of peanut butter to give it a nutty aroma (Creamy,not chunky)

just substitute the chicken for the beef.

Substitute Black beans for chili beans.

This chili is thinner than "normal"chili, but it's a break from the norm!

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