I am a big fan of chilies! When I heard that Zantac was holding a Canadian Chili Challenge I immediatly set to creating a new chili recipe. Chili, like bolognese, is one of those dishes that I just can't resist playing with and trying something new each time. When I find something that I like, it gets carried forward to the next version, etc. Since I started food blogging I have seen a lot of chili recipes and many of them call for ground beef. Although I am going to have to try a ground beef chili one of these days, I find it really hard to resist taking the chance to get a good braise on. There is just something with those chunks of beef that are so tender that they literally melt in your mouth. Another thing that I like about a nice braise is that it takes a long time so all of the flavours have a chance to come out and mingle.
Bacon is a magical ingredient that makes everything better and it certainly works well in chilies. The bacon adds a ton of flavour and you can use the bacon grease to brown the beef and saute the onions so that you don't loose any of the flavour. Although I often like to use fresh chilies in chili, in the Winter they can be hard to come by and dried chilies work just as well. I like to use a variety of chilies and I almost always include some chipotle chillies for their smoky goodness. Next up is the sticky debate about tomatoes and beans and whether they belong in a chili or not. I like chilies both with and without them and this time I decided to go with them to bulk out the chili a bit. Adding some vegetables and beans made me feel a little bit better about the bacon. ;) Once you have all of you basic ingredients you are of course going to need some liquid to do the braising in. You could use water but why not take the opportunity to add some flavour and use some beef stock or better yet some beer and/or coffee. In addition to your standard Texmex spices I like to add a bit of cinnamon and chocolate to the chili to add that hint of something exotic.
Join in on the fun of the Canadian Zantac Chili Challenge or feel free to vote for my beer braised chili con carne recipe when the voting starts in December.
Slow Braised Chili Con Carne
- 2 ancho chilies
- 2 pasilla chilies
- 2 chipotle chilies
- 2 chilies de arbol
- 4 slices bacon (cut into 1 inch slices)
- 1 pound beef (chuck roast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 cup coffee
- 1 beer
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tablet Mexican chocolate (grated)
- 1 handful cilantro (chopped)
- Toast the ancho, pasilla, chipotle and de arbol chilies in a pan.
- Cover in boiling water and let soak for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large pan and set aside retaining the grease in the pan.
- Add the beef and brown on all sides in the bacon grease and set aside.
- Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add the bacon, beef, tomatoes, kidney beans, coffee, beer, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne and oregano.
- Drain the chilies and blend in a half a cup of fresh water and add to the pot. (Tip: Add the chilies a bit at a time taste testing as you go to get it to the level of heat that you desire.)
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is fork tender, about 3-5 hours, adding more liquid if required.
- Add the Mexican chocolate.
- Remove from heat and mix in the cilantro.
Slow Cooker: Implement steps 1-4, optionally implement steps 5&6, place everything except the cilantro in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-10 hours or high for 2-4 hours before adding the cilantro.