Chili con Carne, my way

I love Mexican food in general and Chilli con Carne in particular. It is spicy, yet full of fresh flavours and it brightens up your cloudy days in this side of the world.

Chili con carne is delicious with rice but also as part of my own take of another classical Mexican recipe : the burrito, which I like having on a random day for my working lunch.

I am not going to claim that my recipe is authentic, as I do not want to disappoint my lovely friends Ara and Karla, but it is rather tasty, I’d say!

Cooking time: 15 minutes + 90 minutes
Quantity: This mix serves 6

Tips:

1. I always use a cast iron enamelled pot. There are many in the market and although they are completely old school, they are perfect fro stews and chill con carne.

2. I also always use a wooden spoon. Sometimes timber and sometimes bamboo. Do you know that bamboo is not a tree but a grass and that grows a lot quicker than trees? I am not an eco warrior so I am not saying it, but read between the lines!

3. I use pimento because I cannot help it, must be the Riojan blood in my veins, but you can, of course use chill powder.

4. I know that adding chocolate might sound strange but just do it and you will see how much the mix deepens.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp pimenton
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin seeds
500g minced beef (as lean as you can find)
6 chestnut mushrooms
1 beef stock cube dissolved in 400ml of hot water
400g can chopped tomatoes
800g red kidney beans
1 tsp brown sugar

Cooking instructions:

Put your pan over (medium) heat. Add the oil and heat. Be careful not to overheat as olive oil changes when doing so and will taste different.

Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid the burning them. Please be mindful that if, before the time, the onions are soft and look translucent, you can move of to the next step.

It is time to add the garlic, pimenton , paprika and cumin. It is important that you continue to stir and cook for further five minutes as this now that the spices will begin to develop their flavour.

Brown the minced by turning the heat of up slightly, adding the mince to the pan and making sure that you break the mix into small pieces with a wooden spatula. This stage is important to seal the flavors in the meat . After a couple of minutes, add the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook.

When the mix is uniformly colored, you will be ready for the next step. Adding the stock mix, the chopped tomatoes, sugar, chocolate, and salt and pepper.

Cook gently and when the mix reaches boiling point, cover it , lower the heat and let it cook for 30 minutes. Make sure that you stir every now and then as some pans get too hot and the mix burns.

At this stage is when the meat will begin to blend its flavor with the other ingredients.

Drain the beans and add them to the pan. Mix and bring to the boil again. Lower the heat and let the flavors mix for, at least, another half an hour.

The beans are delicate and will begin to soften. Do not let them overcook into a mushy mix loosing their texture but , at the same time, make sure that you cook them enough in order to make sure that the flavors to come together. Beans in a chili con carne should taste of much more than just beans

You can mix the kidney beans with other types of beans which might add different textures, or you might also add a diced red pepper to the chili con carne at the same time as you cook the onion.

Serve with rice and some sour cream on the side.

Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Recipe by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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