Chili Con Carne

The first full weekend of the new year brought a storm to our area that lingered until late last night. It snowed on and off the whole weekend, temperatures were chilly and the wind was gusting. In other words, it was a perfect weekend to stay inside under a blanket on the couch and relax! It also seemed like the ideal time to finally try this recipe for chili con carne that I’ve had my eye on for a while. A warm bowl of chili screams comfort food on a cold winter day!

Chili Con Carne

I’ve never made chili con carne and I didn’t research many recipes to see how this one compares to others. The real draw for me was that this recipe does not call for beans, which made it perfect for us since I knew Shane would not be thrilled about beans in his dinner. It did take some time to put the recipe together between prepping the ingredients, cooking the bacon, browning the meat and simmering the chili but if you start in the early afternoon you’ll be all set come dinner time. Plus, if you’re only a family of two (like us) you’ll have enough to last you for several meals.

Chili Con Carne

So, here’s the part where I’m honest: I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome. That said, I’m not sure I can blame the recipe. The flavors were amazing – I loved them – but the meat was nowhere near tender enough. I suspect I didn’t cut the pieces of meat small enough so they didn’t tenderize in the cooking time suggested by the recipe. I probably should have simmered the chili longer but it was late and we were hungry! I’m also not 100% sure I bought the right cut of meat. Trying to choose cuts of beef in the market confuses the heck out of me – there seem to be so many different names for the same thing. I will definitely make this again because, like I said, aside from the problem with the meat, I really liked the dish. I am determined to perfect this one and make it a go-to winter meal for us!

[P.S. – Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for a copy of the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book! Details here!]

Chili Con Carne
from Cook’s Country (you might have to register to access the recipe but it’s free)

1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo
4 slices bacon, chopped fine
1 boneless beef chuck-eye roast (3 1/2 to 4 lb), trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped fine
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn muffin mix (Jiffy, for example)

Add the can of tomatoes and the chipotle chiles to a food processor and and pulse until smooth. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towel-lined plate and reserve 3 tablespoons bacon fat.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat in empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Working in batches, brown the beef on all sides (use a second tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat for the second batch). Be sure not to overcrowd the pan or the beef will steam and not brown. Transfer the browned beef to a bowl and set aside.

Add remaining tablespoon of bacon fat, onion, and jalapeno to empty Dutch oven and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in water, pureed tomato mixture, bacon, browned beef, and sugar and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Remove cover, skim fat from the surface and continue to simmer uncovered until meat is tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

Ladle 1 cup chili liquid into medium bowl and stir in muffin mix; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave until mixture is thickened, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk mixture into chili and simmer until chili is slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving. The chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.