Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chili con Carne

Chili con carne is one of those dishes you can't get enough. It is a chili (pepper) - tomato based stew with ground meat. It originated in the south of Texas, near the border and it became famous in the city of San Antonio. Since 1977 it is the official dish of the State of Texas. This recipe will make the best Chili con carne ever, the spice balance is just perfect and served over tortilla cups will make it for your summer parties.

Serves 10- 15

Ingredients for the Chili

2  pounds ground beef
2 cups chili beans,cooked with the liquid. (small red beans)
2 cups of diced tomatoes with the juice
3 cups beef stock
1 cup minced onion 
5 garlic cloves minced
4 tablespoon oil
2 Poblano peppers diced
2 chile Guajillos
1 chile Pasilla
1 chile chipotle
1 chile de arbol
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano (dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Reconstitute the dried chillies placing them in a bowl, and pour enough boiling water to cover, press down with a spoon to submerge. Let the plump for 15- 20 minutes. On a cutting board seed the pepper cutting off the tops and slitting down the side.

Process the chillies in a blender with some of the water used to reconstitute, process for 4 minutes until having a homogeneous paste. Set aside.

In a cast iron braiser or dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat, brown the meat, remove from the pot and set aside. Reduce the temperature to medium and in the same oil, cook the onions and garlic for 5 minutes scrapping the brown at the bottom. Stir in the Poblano peppers and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the meat back and combine well, add the tomatoes, chile paste (you can add 3/4 of it and at the end add the rest if you want it hotter), cumin, oregano, paprika, tomato paste, salt and pepper and 2 cups of the beef stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.Let simmer for about 1 hour with the lid slightly askew, stir occasionally.

After 1 hour, remove the lid and add the cooked beans. I prefer to cook them myself ahead of time, but if you don't have time you can used canned beans. Add the remaining beef stock and adjust the salt and pepper. Add the remaining chili paste if you want a little more spicy.

Let simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or until the desired consistency. Serve over tortilla cups and garnish with cilantro dip.

Ingredients for the Tortilla cups

20 corn tortillas
4 ramekins
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Invert the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
Coat 4 tortillas with cooking spray and drape the tortillas over the ramekins. Bake until golden and crisp.  Make sure the tortillas are centered so they have the shape of a cup. Repeat the process until you have enough to serve.

Cilantro Dip

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

Mix with a fork in a bowl and refrigerate until serving. Pour one tablespoonful on each serving of the chili con carne.