Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chili con dos Carnes

Chili con dos Carnes

 Everyone has a favorite Chili recipe. Some like it savory, some sweet; with or without beans; red, white or brown and varying degrees of heat from mild to “I will never be able to taste again!” There are also those truly fearsome Chili aficionados with their set of rules that govern what is or is not real chili. Good for them, everyone needs a cause to fight for!

Chili is one of those dishes made so many different ways that it’s not likely that we will ever know the true origin, but that is what makes it such a marvelous food! From north to south; from sizzling red to creamy white; from “just like mom’s” to “really, this is Chili?” they’re all winners in the great chili cook-off scheme of things.

This is my favorite Chili made the way I like Chili to taste. I prefer “with beans” to no beans, and in that matter Red over Kidney. I like the flavor notes wrought by Cumin, so that spice has a definitive presence here. I also like to taste the heat, so I use several distinctive tasting peppers but none that are so hot that they make eating my Chili an experiment in terror.

There are also a couple of twists here and there; because that’s the way I love to cook (see blog name). I like cheese on top of my Chili and I choose to change it up by foregoing the typical Cheddar for a silky Camembert with a bite. (This is where I begin to lose the Texans!) Onions in and onions on, every variety of onion has a signature taste and I prefer the mild sweetness of a Spanish in the Chili and the pepper bite of a Scallion as a garnish.

Chili con dos Carnes
Servings: 10     Preparation Time: 20 Minutes     Cooking Time: 2½ to 3 Hours


1 Pound dried Small Red Beans, rinsed and soaked overnight (reserve the soaking liquid)
• 5 Tablespoons Canola Oil
• ½ Pound Bulk Chorizo
• 1 Pound Boneless Chuck Steak, cut into 1” pieces
• Kosher Salt
• Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• All Purpose Flour
• 1 Large Spanish Onion, cut in ½” dice
• 1 Serrano Pepper, minced (seeds and membranes removed)
• 1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce, minced
• 2 Cloves Garlic, mashed with ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt (see Tips and Trending below)
• 3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
• 1 Tablespoon Roasted Cumin
• ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
• 1 Bottle of Stout Beer
• 1 Container Beef Stock Concentrate
• 2 Cans Diced Roma Tomatoes, 28 ounce each
• 4 Cups Low Sodium Beef Stock
• 1 Small Camembert Cheese Round, chilled and sliced
• 1 Bunch Scallions, in ¼” slices

Preparation Steps

Step 1. After soaking, put the Red Beans in a stock pot with enough fresh cold water to cover by 2”. Add 2 tablespoons of Canola Oil and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and loosely cover. Cook the Red Beans, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours. Drain and set aside.

Step 2. Brown the Chorizo in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Transfer the Chorizo to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon reserving the rendered fat in the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of Canola Oil to the pot.

Step 3. Season the Chuck Steak with Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper and toss in the All-Purpose Flour shaking off the excess. When the oil is hot, add the meat and brown in two batches to avoid crowding. Transfer the browned meat to rest with the Chorizo. Add 1 tablespoon of oil between batches if necessary.

Step 4. When all of the meat has been browned, reduce the heat to low. Heat 1 tablespoon of Canola Oil then add the Onion to the pot and cook for 1 minute. Add the Serrano and Chipotle Peppers and the mashed Garlic and cook for another minute. Add the Chili Powder, Cumin, and Cayenne and cook stirring for 1 additional minute.

Step 5. Add the Stout and scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Cook until the beer is reduced by half then stir in the Beef Stock Concentrate.

Step 6. Add the 2 cans of Diced Tomatoes with the juices, the Red Beans and all of the meat. Add the Beef Stock and stir to combine.

Step 7. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil for 2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer for 2½ hours uncovered.

Step 8. After 2½ hours, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Check a piece of the Beef and if it’s not tender the Chili’s not done. Keep it simmering and check the meat every 15 minutes until perfect.

Serve in individual bowls with a thin slice of Camembert Cheese floating on top with a few Scallion slices over the Cheese. 

Chili con dos Carnes


Tips and Trending

~ I precook the beans to tenderize them prior to adding to the chili. This avoids beans with too much of a bite and allows them to absorb more of the chili flavors.

~ To mash garlic, first smash each clove with the side of a wide chef’s knife to remove the skin and make the cloves less apt to roll around the cutting board. Next sprinkle ⅛ teaspoon of Kosher salt on each clove (coarse salt is a must), and press the garlic with the flat of the knife as you pull toward
you. Keep doing this until the garlic forms a paste.

~ After the Chili has been simmering for 1¼ hours, taste to check the acidity. If it is too high, stir in a little baking soda – ½ teaspoon at a time. The result will be slightly sweeter. Taste after each ½ teaspoon addition; too much baking soda will cause the tomatoes to taste flat.

~ I remove the seeds and membranes from the Serrano pepper to keep the Chili somewhat tame. Before you add more peppers or spices to increase the heat, try leaving the seeds and membranes with the pepper.

~ If you prefer a thinner Chili, halfway through the cooking time add some of the reserved soaking liquid from the Red Beans, one cup at a time, until the Chili reaches the desired consistency. Note that it will become thicker again as it continues to cook for the next 1¼ hours.

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