Chili Con Carne
May 14, 2003 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Of All The Quintessential American Dishes which almost every American makes a different way and passionately insists on defining and even spelling as narrowly and personally as possible, my favourite - and many Europeans' (who think it's Mexican and so safe to love) - is undoubtedly chili con carne. This website is the first I've seen which begins to address the complexity of the deliciousness that is a bowl of red. Mmmm...![Mine, I make very Portuguesely with olive oil, far too many onions, severe garlic overload, a full bottle of dry white wine, lots of fresh parsley, fresh piri-piri pimentos, steamed red beans and...sacrilege!...big fat (wild, whenever I can get them) mushrooms.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (60 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Mine, I make very Portuguesely with olive oil, far too many onions, severe garlic overload, a full bottle of dry white wine, lots of fresh parsley, fresh piri-piri pimentos, steamed red beans and...sacrilege!...big fat (wild, whenever I can get them) mushrooms.

Miguel ... can I come over to your house for dinner? Pretty please?

Great link, thanks. They may not be authentic, but I think the mushrooms are a great idea, particularly if you're making it for vegetarians (in which case I suppose you'd have to call it chili sin carne). Hmm, I'd love to see your take on some New Orleans dishes!
posted by chuq at 10:38 AM on May 14, 2003

Cincinnati style chili is one of the most wonderful substances on the planet.
posted by GeekAnimator at 10:40 AM on May 14, 2003

Mmmm, smells great!
posted by carter at 10:45 AM on May 14, 2003

the poruguese government makes miggy carry an organ donor card that reads "In case of death DO NOT HARVEST ORGANS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES."
posted by quonsar at 10:46 AM on May 14, 2003

I do a lot of traveling, and nothing amuses me more than seeing how other cultures interpret classic American food. I'm sure that the same thing applies to visitors to the US who find our takes on their cuisine to be equally hilarious.

Mexican food seems to get totally lost in translation in most of the restaurants I've visited in Europe that purport to serve it. Germany's variations were particularly heinous. Nobody should ever put cabbage in a burrito! I should mention that a lot of Mexican restaurants in the US do a lousy job of it as well. The only place you're going to get real Mexican food is in some little supermercado in a Hispanic neighborhood.
posted by MrBaliHai at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2003

Do Europeans dislike and avoid American food... really? Is it a patriotism thing a la freedom fries?!
What about old Jacques and his soft spot for burgers?

No sacrilege at all.
I'm hungry!
posted by pots at 10:51 AM on May 14, 2003

And here I had made it almost a year on Mefi without a cheesy "I love you Miguel" comment. Now that is all over. Damn it.

Thanks for the Chili thread.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:51 AM on May 14, 2003

Miguel, you owe us a recipe.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:02 AM on May 14, 2003

Chuq: thanks - your website has been tickling and teaching my taste buds and waste buds ever since I found it. I've even pickled okra for that uncompomising Bloody Mary you propose - satanic!

But, er, I forgot to mention the meat. It doesn't really taste right without the meat. Freshly, very coarsely ground chuck steak is best.

Chili is always at its most becoming when it has been reheated once or twice. It also freezes beautifully. Get the yen - the need - and all you have to do is thaw and reheat with extreme slowness and, when it's piping, add some more fresh red beans. I like to let half of them mix with the chili as they thicken the sauce but, just before serving, I add fresh beans, just to heat them up, for that lovely, crunchy wholesome thang. A scattering of fresh parsley or coriander and you'd never know it had been frozen.

Good chili never really ends!

If feeling wicked, I accompany with Margaritas all the way through. Your recently offered recipe, though with only I part Cointreau, is mine too! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:06 AM on May 14, 2003

Chili is such a funny food.

My Father-in-Law is from Oklahoma, and to him chili is meat, fat, and spices. Period, end of sentence. But I too have known the culinary delight of a good Cincy 4-way, a bowl of good "New York Times" chili that my Father made while I grew up (the more common tomato-based chili that many folks know and love), and -- double sacrilege!! -- even a nice veggie chili will float my boat just fine.

Gad, I loves 'em all. Even if my stomach grimaces. Ah well, that's what the beer is for!
posted by tommyspoon at 11:14 AM on May 14, 2003

Oh, there's nothing better than a chili cook-off. I used to LOVE it when a company I worked for had one. I even won it once, with my black bean recipe.

I just planted Anaheims, jalapenos, and habaneros in the backyard. There will be some SERIOUS chili this summer.
posted by padraigin at 11:19 AM on May 14, 2003


We don't need no steenking beans!

Let's break it down, shall we? "chili" - generic pepper, usually with plenty of capsicum (the good stuff). "con" - with. "carne" - meat. So, spicy peppers with meat. No mention of frijoles whatsoever. If you wanna eat 'em, more power to you; just don't go calling what you're eating "chili".

Why yes, I am originally from Oklahoma, why do you ask?
posted by yhbc at 11:21 AM on May 14, 2003

Chili without beans is meat soup. Chili without meat is not chili. That is all.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:28 AM on May 14, 2003

We're having a chili cookoff in two weeks. This is perfect.

I like to use cubes of stewing beef in mine, along with the regular ground beef or turkey. A cinnamon stick and/or unsweetened chocolate also adds a subtle and welcome sweetness.

And don't forget the beer (pour it in flat).
posted by Succa at 11:32 AM on May 14, 2003

I grew up in Texas, and 'chili con carne' was just chili. If you said chili in Texas, you meant con carne. A chili burger meant meat piled upon meat between a bun.

Then my family moved to New Mexico. The first time I ordered a 'chili burger' there I was served a cheeseburger topped with green chiles.

While not quite as traumatic as the time I ordered a Roy Rogers and instead got a Rob Roy when I was six, it was close.

My mom, a chef, used to enter into the New Mexico chili cookoff every year ... and part of the fun of the contest was how you "sold" the chili. So my mom and her partner would dress up as nuns on rollerskates and call their savory concotion "Bar Nun Habit Formin' Chili". Good times.

Mmmm, chili.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:42 AM on May 14, 2003

yeah, no beans...
posted by jbelshaw at 11:42 AM on May 14, 2003

Among the links, this one, by John Thorne, on Texas chili, is passionately written and argued. If I may quote just the two opening paragraphs:

"Chili, chili con carne, Texas red - whatever you call that savory concoction of meat, grease, and fire - is the natural child of the arguing state of mind. There's no recipe for it, only disputation, and almost anyone's first thought after a taste of somebody else's version, no matter how much it pleasures the throat, is that they could make it better.

Chili naturally brings out that attitude. There's something contentious about Texas red, something so restless, rootless, and just plumb wild, that you never come to terms with it for long. Even your own chili - however good it is - keeps you wrangling. That's because it can only truly be Texas red if it walks the thin line just this side of indigestibility: damning the mouth that eats it and defying the stomach to digest it, the ingredients are hardly willing to lie in the same pot together."
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:44 AM on May 14, 2003

Chocolate is the secret to a good Cincinnati style Chili
posted by Mick at 11:56 AM on May 14, 2003

sorry Miguel, but you're going to have to be more specific about your recipe; it's sounds great so far, and I think the rule is that if you mention a personal recipe on mefi, it must be open-source. So spill it; give us the gritty.
posted by taz at 11:58 AM on May 14, 2003

Where I grew up in the midwest (not exactly the ancestral home of chili) it always contained both meat and beans. Also onions, cheese, and hard boiled eggs on the table and maybe some fritos on the side. Wash down with beer and produce enough gas to heat a modest home for 3 months.

Here in Maine there's a concoction I've yet to try with the redundant name of "American Chop Suey". It sounds like beanless chili with macaroni, minus the chili spices. Recipe here.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:00 PM on May 14, 2003

Obligatory Simpsons Reference
posted by padraigin at 12:01 PM on May 14, 2003

What's better than a bowl of chili on a cold winter's day? A bowl of chili while golfing for charity on a cold winter's day, of course. [PDF, 369K]
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2003

And don't forget the beer (pour it in flat).

There's an excellent recipe I use that calls for ginger ale (or, if you're feeling lively, ginger beer) instead of beer. I gather that wouldn't fly in Oklahoma, but here in Canada no one seems to mind.

Also, as padraigin has just suggested, chili tastes best when it's eaten from a wooden spoon you carved yourself . . . from a bigger spoon.
posted by gompa at 12:22 PM on May 14, 2003

My chili is better than your chili.
posted by rocketman at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2003

The International Chili Society Rules and Regulations explicity forbid fillers such as beans and pasta. Seems pretty darn clear to me. You contaminate your bowl with beans, and you're eatin' something else. I don't know what it is, but it ain't chili.

That being said, as long as we're sharing recipes, here's my vegetarian chili recipe. Mmmm... I think it's just about time that I made some of that again. 'Scuse me....
posted by majcher at 12:28 PM on May 14, 2003

My chili could beat up your chili.

After all.... it's powered by Guinness.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:32 PM on May 14, 2003

*damns taz and that so-called friend Prince Valium under his breath, secretly proud*

Portuguese Chili Com Carne

You need:

1) A very big pan. You're going to be making enough chili con carne for at least 12 generous servings. You will be eating chili today and tomorrow. It's better reheated. Don't put it in the fridge. Let it ferment on the stove. The rest you'll be freezing.

2) 8 big onions or 16 small, new and white if possible. If not, Vidalia or red. Roughly chopped.

3) 1 big red pepper and I big green one. Deseeded and cut lengthways, in chunky strips.

4) 6 fresh chili peppers. Coarsely cut and deseeded. Fresh is best, whatever they are. You can always adjust the heat later. It should be borne in mind that constant tasting and adjustment are the secret of good cooking. But don't forget that decreasing heat is very difficult. So start off mild and, at the very end, adjust up with dried chili flakes.

5) 2 pounds (but 1 will do) of freshly and coarsely ground steak. Any kind will do. Chuck is traditional but cheaper cuts are tastier, because fattier.

6) 2 pounds of red kidney beans. They have to be soaked for at least 12 hours and cooked (steamed is best) for 1 hour and a half. You can cheat with pre-cooked beans (jars are better than cans) but they're generally too mushy.

7) 1 pound of big fat fresh mushrooms. Can't be canned or dried. If you have wild ones, don't hesitate. Cut each mushroom in four. You want biggish chunks. If you only have canned, leave them out altogether.

8) An enormous bunch of fresh flat-leafed parsley. Half of it leave intact. The rest chop up finely. Coriander is fine too.

9) Two heads of garlic. Chop into slivers.

10) Olive oil

11) White wine

12) Dried chili flakes

Now to the cooking:

1) Put a little olive oil in the pan, with half the onions, a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Low flame. Swivel around till soft, about two minutes. Add half the garlic. Swivel. You want them just to soften and go golden a bit. If anything burns or goes a shade darker than blonde, you'll have to start again.

2) Put in all the meat and swivel around until it's sort of cooked, but still a bit raw.

3) Put in all the chile peppers, the pimento peppers and the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms sweat. Swivel around, stirring constantly.

4) Now take out the mushrooms - reserve, as they say - and throw in half the bunch of parsley and half a bottle of dry white wine. Bring to the boil and immediately bring down to a simmer.

5) Cover the pan and let it cook down for about 1 hour and a half. By this time the smell will be delicious - but don't be tempted! Not yet!

6) When the sauce has thickened - evaporation does the trick, all that steam escaping is unneeded water - you add the rest of the onions, the rest of the garlic and the mushrooms you've reserved.

7) You now taste for saltiness, pepper and capsicum heat. Make adjustments accordingly.

8) When it's simmering, you add half the beans (remember they're already cooked) and, with some violence, throw them about so they become somewhat mushy.

9) Allow everything to simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered. At the last minute, add the rest of the parsley or coriander, finely cut and, finally, the rest of the beans, which you envelop lovingly in the sauce, taking care not to break their skin.*

*If you're going to freeze the chili that you won't be eating, this is the time to do it, before you've added the final beans. That way, when you resuscitate your frozen chili, you can add fresh red beans and parsley.

10) Turn off the heat, cover and let it all meld for 10 minutes or so.

11) Serve with white rice if you fear flatulence. It's a wonderful accompaniment anyway - the Brazilians and Portuguese never eat a feijoada without it.

12) Bear in mind that the more you reheat it and leave it and generally untend it, the better it will be.

13) When reheating do it very very slowly - the chili cannot suspect it's being reheated.

14) Freeze whatever's left. Don't forget to make as much as you can. You'll have chili for many a future meal.


[That was more work than a sonnet!]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:40 PM on May 14, 2003

Ground? Surely you mean cubed?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:40 PM on May 14, 2003

The delicious thing about this chili, of course, is that half the onions, half the garlic, half the beans and the mushrooms are just lightly cooked in the enveloping sauce. This way you get the traditional reduced richness of the chili, plus the fresh-tasting savoury onions, garlic and parsley.

This is the best way to make soup too, btw. You purée half your spinach, carrots, whatever with a potato, olive oil, garlic and onion base. But the other half is merely blanched in the soup, just before serving, providing flavour, crunch and the fun of fishing out the veggies.

And that's enough recipes till 2009.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:49 PM on May 14, 2003

No, it's ground, Joe.

*foresees endless querying, nitpicking, mocking and "that's not chili" remarks

*stresses this is his, Portuguese recipe, to stand alongside others


posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:53 PM on May 14, 2003

I'd hit it Miguel, even if that makes me anti-chili, which, I presume, also makes me anti-American.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:04 PM on May 14, 2003

I feel like a chili debutant(e). So it doesn't need to have tomato?
posted by Marquis at 1:05 PM on May 14, 2003

that was exactly what I wanted, Miguel, and yes, I know how much effort it takes to write out a recipe for a dish that you normally produce "by feel"... this was definitely a labour of love. Thanks! (I wish I had this about a month ago when the weather was still chilly, but I might be tempted to make it this weekend anyway, and damn the torpedoes.)
posted by taz at 1:13 PM on May 14, 2003

WolfDaddy, why do you hate American chili so much?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:14 PM on May 14, 2003

the secret to chili is a little oregano.
posted by clavdivs at 1:15 PM on May 14, 2003

Nope, Marquis - but it's good with tomatoes too. Hell, chili is open-source. It's good with anything. The base is onion, garlic, chili peppers and fatty meat. Anything else - including the beans - is afterthought.

The only secret is taking a lot of fresh, individual, sprightly ingredients and making them old, tired by beating them all into collective submission. In this, it's a bit like communism.

Chili made with non-fresh ingredients - cans, frozen stuff - fails because it tastes stale. What you want is stale-that-only-yesterday-was-fresh. You want freshness broken down, but a little better because of it. Like Lolita's second time with Humbert Humbert, rather than her mother's any time with anyone. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:20 PM on May 14, 2003

Metafilter: "Like Lolita's second time with Humbert Humbert"


Metafilter: stale-that-only-yesterday-was-fresh
posted by taz at 1:25 PM on May 14, 2003

Like Lolita's second time with Humbert Humbert

Miguel, that is a frighteningly apt simile. That, even more than the recipe, made my tastebuds dance and yearn for sinful chili. Absolutely delicious and will be oft repeated.
posted by widdershins at 1:35 PM on May 14, 2003

Best part of that recipe was the direction to "swivel" and to fake the chili out so it doesn't realize it's being reheated.

And the it-gets-better-fermenting on the stove thing works with a good meat spaghetti sauce too.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:42 PM on May 14, 2003

Miguel: No, it's ground, Joe.

I thought it was ground Chuck?

okay, I'm stopping now; it's just that all this chili talk has made me giddy.
posted by taz at 1:51 PM on May 14, 2003

*stands and applauds*
posted by PrinceValium at 2:18 PM on May 14, 2003

another sweetening / chocolate tip : if you're in los angeles, add 1 See's Candy dark chocolate sucker to your chili. amazing what the hard chocolate confection does to a gallon of spicy chlli goodness
posted by badzen at 3:11 PM on May 14, 2003

God damn this thread'll make ya peckish.
posted by sacre_bleu at 4:08 PM on May 14, 2003

My mom always made chili with beans, and I hate beans, so I always assumed I hated chili by extension. I've apparently never had real chili. I hope you all recognize the total shock of that realization.

I... I guess I've got a long road ahead of me.
posted by Hildago at 4:18 PM on May 14, 2003

add 1 See's Candy dark chocolate sucker to your chili Thanks for the tip I'll try it.

1) A very big pan.
Wow were all coming to dinner, thanks Mig, great link.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:31 PM on May 14, 2003

Like Lolita's second time with Humbert Humbert

Total derail, but this is an all-too-common misreading of the novel that never fails to irritate me. We are not meant to assume Lolita enjoyed Humbert's lovemaking in any way or at any time; we must always keep in mind that the entire novel is recounted by a deluded rapist with a taste for underage girls. Nabokov's subtlety and misdirection was, alas, lost on the mass reading public that made him rich and famous.[/derail]

This thread has made me very hungry.
posted by languagehat at 4:37 PM on May 14, 2003

Wow. That recipe was so well written that I can practically taste it, Miguel.

I think I just found a new Saturday afternoon project.

posted by hama7 at 5:17 PM on May 14, 2003

Bravo Miguel! This recipie will be tested in Tokyo as soon as I unpack my kitchen :)

If we do a pasta thread I can share my Milanese anchovy/garlic/parsley pasta that is simple and yummy.
posted by gen at 6:12 PM on May 14, 2003

Okay, fine. Miguel, you force my hand.

The Commish's Saddleblanket Chili*

1 lb. lean beef brisket, or flank steak if you're on a budget (diced)
1 lb. ground beef (single-grind, if you can get it)
1 large red onion, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1 large green pepper, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 fresh serrano peppers (2 chopped, 1 sliced to make it pretty). Only use habaneros if you're sure you know what you're doing.
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbspn. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried whole oregano, or 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano (like clavdivs said!)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
1/3 cup masa harina (or cornmeal)
1 14-1/2 oz. can no-salt whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 13-3/4 oz. can no-salt beef broth
1 12 oz. can warm beer (any kind, but dark is better and Negra Modelo is best)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. hot sauce, your choice. Melinda's XXX is good.
salt to taste
2 tbspn. white vinegar
1-2 fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped (optional)
extra pepper and onion, coarsely chopped (also optional)

Heat large pot over direct flame until hot; add meat and sear, stirring frequently until browned. Remove meat from pot and set aside, leaving about 2 tbspn. drippings in the pot.

Reheat over medium heat and add onion and peppers. Saute 5 minutes or until tender. Return meat to pot and add chili powder, cumin, oregano and red pepper. stir well. Sprinkle mixture with masa (or cornmeal) and stir well, until thickened and bubbly.

Add tomatoes (with liquid) and broth, beer, hot sauce and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 1 1/2 hours. Add vinegar (and extra vegetables, if desired). Adjust seasonings and simmer, partly covered, another 30 minutes or more.

Shoot the guy who says to add a can of beans along with the vegetables. Enjoy.

* - it's so good, you could make it out of a saddleblanket. But go ahead and make it out of the brisket and ground beef instead.
posted by yhbc at 7:05 PM on May 14, 2003

[Lolita sidetopic]I can't speak for Miguel, languagehat, but I thought his simile compared Lolita to the chili, better (for Humbert) the second time as chili is better the second day. No implication of her enjoyment at all. To the contrary, she is compared to food greedily consumed.[/Lolita sidetopic]

Miguel, Yhbc, thank you both for the recipes. I'll be trying them this summer. I'd post my own recipe, but it'd be redundant at this point. Just two things to play with: Roast those peppers on the grill until their skins are blackened (and then remove the blackened skins), and caramelize one of the onions until deep brown, but just one of the onions.
posted by Nothing at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2003

Is it red if it doesn't have cumin? And is it green if it doesn't have roasted cumin seeds? Either way, I just ate and I'm suddenly hungry again.
posted by bigschmoove at 8:12 PM on May 14, 2003

On the peppers...

It's possible to make great chili with dried chiles; try this approach:

Seed and stem your dried chiles (New Mexico, pasilla, ancho, whatever you prefer) and filet them, so that you have single-layer sheets of dried chile. Briefly sear these on a very hot pan or griddle, about ten seconds on each side, enough so that they're really fragrant. You might have difficulty breathing in your kitchen afterwards. Next, reconstitute the chiles in just enough water to cover them for about 20 minutes. Puree them in the water you used for the reconstitution and use that as your base.

Alternatively, instead of searing the chiles in a bare pan, you could fry them in a bit of lard, just for a few seconds on each side. This is a traditional Mexican technique, and it tastes wonderful, but, you know: lard.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:14 PM on May 14, 2003

Maple syrup, folks, maple syrup. Use a quarter to a third of a cup of the real stuff for every sixteen or twenty cups of chili you make. It's an old Canadian secret for barbeque sauce too. The sugar in the syrup emulsifies the various pepper powders and delays them from hitting your tongue for a second. So what you get is all flavour for a single second, and then wham!
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:17 PM on May 14, 2003

My ancestors were among the "Chili Queens" on the San Antonio Plaza in the early part of the 20th Century. I've researched a lot of chili history. In fact I even have a signed First Edition of Frank X. Tolbert's definitive tome "A Bowl of Red."
Of course here in Texas there are endless arguments about what makes "real" chili. But like any dish, it can change and evolve, and make it how you like (though Miguel posted mushroom/wine/parsley concoction made me blanche a bit ;) )
For the record, yhbc's Commish's Saddleblanket Chili is very much the "real thing", at least in terms of authenticity and the original chile recipes.
The "chile powder" should be relatively fresh ground dried chiles, such as Ancho - not what is sold as chile powder in some supermarkets (Whole foods usually sells both pure ground Ancho and New Mexico chile powder.) Ideally the oregano should be Mexican oregano - though the Italian kind is not too different.
Of course, even among "authentic" recipes, each cook has their own personal touches. I add a lot more onions than yhbc for 2 pounds of meat, and add a lot more spices
And my grandmother's secret ingredient? 1/2 to 1 cup of strong brewed coffee.
Beans or no beans? There is no consensus, even among chili historians. A lot of people will claim no beans is more authentic. But cowboys and the tex mex cooks usually served beans with every meal (meat was scarcer back then.) Some may have very well mixed their beans in with the chile, some may have just had them on the side. The original recipes also included some ingredients we don't use today much, like beef fat for extra flavor. Well here's mine. I thought it would always be a secret - but maybe it's better preserved for eternity on MeFi:

Note: this is pretty spicy stuff - cut back on the fresh chiles, chipotles, and chile powder if you want it milder

1 and 1/2 to 2 lbs. chile grind or cubed beef (fairly lean chuck or something similar)
1/2 lb. ground or cubed pork
3-4 medium white and/or yellow onions, minced
juice of 2 limes
7-8 fresh serrano or jalapeño peppers, minced
4 to 5 chile pequins, ground fine in mortar and pestle (small dried chiles sold in the spice section of some Mexican groceries - optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh ground dried chiles (Ancho or a mixture of 1/2 Ancho and New Mexico, or if you can find it - pasilla, a wonderful chile with a slight chocolate flavour.) In the alternative, you can use whole 9 or 10 whole dried chiles - using the technique mr. roboto describes above.
1 small can chipolte chiles in adobo sauce, pureed( optional and not authentic, but gives a great smokey flavour)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons oregano (pref. mexican)
1 tablespoon sugar (pref unrefined)
1 can whole tomatoes, chopped (or you can use 2 if you like it really tomato-y). Of course if you have good fresh tomatoes, you can use those, but the canned ones usually actually taste better.
Apx. 40 oz. beer. - doesn't have to be fancy stuff, any lager will do (I usually use Tecate or Negra Modelo)
1 tablespoon salt (pref. sea salt)
1/2 tablespoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup masa harina
5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced (or more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons fresh-ground cumin (toast the cumin seeds first, if you didn't when you bought it)
apx. 1 cup strong black coffee
1/4 cup minced cilantro (optional - but nice if you like the taste of cilantro)
1 tablespoon cooking oil or butter
1 or 2 cans of pinto beans (optional)
Heat your largest skillet or a dutch oven. Add oil or butter. Brown the meat and onions. You might have to do this in two batches unless you have a really big skillet. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat. Put the meat/onion mixture and all other ingredients in a large crock pot or big stewpot.
(I cook it overnight 10-12 hours in a crock pot. Of course you can simmer it on low on the cooker in a stewpot for 2 to 3 hours.)
Taste it and add a bit more salt and/or cumin, if you think you need to.
Now another trick is after it cooks, it tastes better after being refrigerated a day. This also lets you remove a lot of the fat unneeded for flavour (believe me - it will still have plenty of fat.) So if possible, let it cool and put in some sort of big tub in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, use a cooking spoon and remove most of the hardened grease on the top.
Heat and serve. We like flour tortillas on the side and a bit of shredded cheese on top. If it's mild, you might want a bottle of hot sauce also.
This makes a lot, but freezes wonderfully.
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:09 AM on May 15, 2003 [2 favorites]

Wow, sixdifferentways and yhbc - thanks a million. To think I had to post my treasonous Portuguese recipe (which is nevertheless delicious and based on centuries-old cooking techniques) to coax the real McCoy out of you! I'll definitely be trying both (yours, sdw, with all the old ingredients) the next two times I make chili. The reading alone had me salivating!

[I love the Filter.]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:29 AM on May 15, 2003

Nothing: Ah, that would be much better. I guess I was put on a different track by the comparison to her mother. Don't know which interpretation Miguel intended, but I'll take yours.
posted by languagehat at 7:31 AM on May 15, 2003

Chili without meat is not chili.

Thanks for the clarification Civil_Disobedient. So can you tell me exactly what I do eat when I make my chili without dead animals in it?

And by the way, my veggie chili rules. It has stymied many an animal eater.

/snark, troll, whatever - that really pisses me off
posted by tr33hggr at 8:45 AM on May 15, 2003

it's easy: you're eating dead veggies, tr33hggr

(I agree that veggie chili can be tasty, just like so many other veggie dishes. on the other hand I'm not a huge fan of veggie burgers, which I've always found to be inferior to the original, dead-animal variety)

ps thanks sixdifferentways, for the awesome recipe
posted by matteo at 10:55 AM on May 15, 2003

Good enough matteo; thanks for making me smile about it.
posted by tr33hggr at 3:25 PM on May 15, 2003

Wow - the wonderful, indispensable new things linklog noticed this thread and *crimson blush* my recipe:

"The lovely thing about this cookery-related thread, and this recipe in particular, was not just that it was mouth-watering and encouraged one to start cooking immediately, but the response it received. People posted saying they were going to try the recipe as soon as possible, and one could imagine ovens and hobs being fired up in the US, in Tokyo, in Europe, all over the world, all following this single list of ingredients, all producing something delicious, yet also somehow totally different. The recipe as a form of global unifier."

*issues open invitation to all new things personnel to enjoy his chili com carne whenever they're next in Lisbon.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:35 AM on May 16, 2003

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