Jan has a hankering for chili. She pointed out that I have not made it in a long time—looking at my posts, not since February of last year. For Jan, chili means “chili with beans.”
In the normal course of events this would be a one dish meal, but “chili with beans” will not work for Chris, because he is on a keto diet. In fact, his diet makes most Mexican food off limits for him, because it excludes not only beans, but rice and corn as well. I will need to make a second chili without beans—for many people, “chili” means only the meat and the sauce. Finally, so Chris does not have to live on meat alone, I will make a vegetable dish to round out the meal.
Eilene has just gotten her wisdom teeth removed and Miriam is still having trouble with her TMJ, so I am planning on making this chili less chewy than I would normally make it. I plan to reduce the amount of meat and to use ground beef. This should make it easier for them to eat.
I had thought about using my mother Claudia’s chili recipe. I took it out and looked it over. I was surprised to find that it did not actually include any “chile.” All it had was beans, beef, onion, garlic and tomato sauce. This reminded me of a story a friend had told me about going into a Taco Bell in Kentucky, where the “refried beans” were white beans with ketchup—the locals would not buy pinto beans, because they tasted too foreign.
In addition to adding chili powder to her recipe, Jan has been encouraging me to add more vegetables. In my last chili I added celery, Jalapeño, green bell pepper and corn. This time I am going to add roasted Poblano and Anaheim chilies, and cilantro, as well. The carne in this dish definitely plays a supporting role.
After Dinner Note: The girls really liked this chili. It had just enough bite and all the vegetables that they like.
Karl’s Chili California con Carne
2 cups pinto beans
32 oz. low sodium beef broth
1 ear corn
2 Poblano chilies
1 Anaheim chile
1 Serrano chile
¾ lb. ground beef (80% lean, ground chuck, if available)
2 Tbs. corn oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced, separate uses
1 cup cilantro (see note below)
6 large cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbs. Karl’s Chili California Powder
1 bottle of beer (12 oz.)
3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 Jalapeño chili
corn tortillas 2-3 per person
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup diced onion
½ cup mashed avocado
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
1. Sort and wash the pinto beans.
2. Five hours before dinner, put the beans and beef broth into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Tip: The rest of the prep may be done while the beans are soaking.
Note: I am using the “quick soak” method of rehydrating the beans. I am also a non-believer in over-salting and the pouring out the soaking liquid. Why should you discard the beans natural color and vitamins, just so you can make your beans look like they came out of a can?
3. Put the corn and the Poblano, Anaheim and Serrano chilies on a lipped baking sheet and broil them on high for 30 minutes. Turn the vegetables about every 10 minutes so they get charred on all sides.
4. Place the peppers in a plastic bag until they are cool—this steams the peppers and makes the skins easier to remove. Remove all the skins and chop them coarsely.
5. Remove the kernels from the cob and set them aside in a bowl.
6. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove the stem core from the tomatoes and cut an X in the bottoms of the tomatoes.
7. Par-boil the tomatoes for two minutes and then place them in a bowl of cold water.
8. Peel, de-seed, and chop the tomatoes into small chunks.
Tip: Catch the seeds and tomato jelly in a bowl and strain out the seeds. Add the tomato juices to the chopped tomatoes. Much of the flavor of fresh tomatoes is in the jelly around the seeds.
9. Brown the beef in the corn oil in a large Dutch oven over a high heat. When the beef is well browned remove it to a separate bowl.
Note: I had excess beef grease from my oxtails in red chile sauce. I used it here instead of using the corn oil.
10. Without cleaning the Dutch oven, turn the heat down to medium high and add the onions and celery. Use the moisture of the vegetables to deglaze the pot. Sauté until the onions are well browned, about 10 minutes.
11. Add half of the bell pepper and the chopped cilantro to the pot. Continue sautéing for two more minutes.
Note: Save the best leafy tops of the cilantro for serving on the side. For the pot, you want mostly the finely minced stems.
Tip: Put the second half of the bell peppers in the bowl with the corn.
12. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic and chili powder and sauté one minute more.
Tip: For tablespoons may seem like a lot of chili powder, but the California chilies are very mild. If you want it hotter, as opposed to spicier, add more Arbol chilies to the mix.
13. Add the beer, roasted vegetables, half of the tomatoes, and the contents of the bean pot to the Dutch oven.
Tip: Put the second half of the tomatoes in the bowl with the corn.
14. Bring to a boil, reduce the head, and cover the Dutch oven. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring and check fluid level every half hour, add beer, beef broth, or water if needed.
Note: I would normally put the Dutch oven into a 325° oven, because the heat is more evenly distributed. I have my oxtails cooking in the oven, so I have to cook my beans on the stove top. I will just have to be more careful about scraping the beans from the bottom of the pot to keep them from scorching.
15. Cut the jalapeño pepper into a small dice and add it to the bowl with the corn.
16. When 2 hours have passed, stir in the corn and other vegetables. Continue simmering the chili, covered, for at least half an hour.
Tip: If the sauce seems a bit thin, crush a few of the beans against the side of the pot and stir them in. Continue doing this every five minutes, until the chili is to your desired thickness.
Note: The reason for the pauses between bean crushing is because it takes a few minutes for the starch from beans to thicken the sauce.
17. Serve the chili with corn tortillas, chopped cilantro, diced raw onion, avocado, and cheese on the side.