I recently wrote an article and recipe about chili con carne for the Dutch website Ze.nl. It happens to be one of my favorite cold-weather meals, so I thought I'd also share it here for those who can't read Dutch. But first let me tell you a little bit more about my chili...
I've pretty much tried all sorts of variations, some better than others. Perhaps the worst one was the version with tofu. As much as I enjoy eating vegetarian (light, clean, healthy, fresh!), this simply did not work. Chili con carne, like the name says, needs the carne, or meat! The tofu version was odd. Like a burger with only the bun. An all-bean variation was slightly better, but the fact that I only made it once or twice says enough. The opposite also applies to the all-beef chili. For me, it simply isn't chili con carne without the beans or the meat. I must have them both!
I also need spice and heat, but not too much. I want to taste the complex flavors without having to suck in air after every bite in a desperate attempt to cool my mouth. My chili must have a touch of sweetness to balance off the acidity of the tomatoes. That's why I add in a little rosemary sugar. In fact, almost all my tomato-based sauces get a little rosemary sugar for that same reason. And because my chili needs depth and richness, some cocoa powder always goes in towards the end of the cooking time. Don't worry. You'll barely notice it.
There many ways to serve chili. Perhaps you have some extra time and are in the mood to bake up a batch of corn muffins. They go exceptionally well with it. Rice, preferably yellow, is another option, as is a handful of good tortilla chips. The blue corn kind would be my choice. Of course, you can also choose to have your chili naked. No, not that kind of naked! Although...
Anyway you choose to serve it, make sure you top it with a good dollop of sour cream and perhaps a spoonful of salsa. Enjoy!
Paola's Good Ol' Chili Con Carne
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 tsps whole coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
500g ground beef
1 bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 tsps ground cumin
2 tsps ground oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika powder
1/4- 1 tsp chili powder, depending on the heat of your chili powder and your taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
500g pureed tomatoes
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsps rosemary sugar, or normal sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp cocoa powder
Heat the olive oil and allow the onion and the garlic to gently sweat for about 5 minutes. Grind the coriander and fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar and add them to the onions and garlic. Allow to cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn up the heat a bit and add in your beef. Brown for 3-5 minutes. Add the chopped bell pepper, the ground cumin, oregano, smoked paprika powder, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Stir well. Add the tomato puree, the kidney beans, sugar and salt and pepper. Stir well and lower the heat. Leave the chili to cook in a covered pan for 45 minutes. Stir every now and then. Taste the chili to see if it needs more salt or pepper. Add in the cocoa powder and allow to cook for another 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy! PS: The chili always tastes better the next day!