Sometimes you’re busy, sometimes you don’t feel like cooking or sometimes you want something quick and easy. A comfort dish from your childhood also helps! Once again this past weekend I was called upon to cook-up a comfort dish at Toronto’s Harbourfront, near the skating rink. It’s cold outside and warming dishes is what’s cold for in the Canadian winter.
Chili con Carne suited the task (cooking demo), it was cold and windy out and this easy dish with a little heat was very timely. Chili con Carne means “chillis” or dried smoked peppers with (con) meat or “carne”. You can go all out and choose your favourite dried chilli pepper and make your own chilli powder: there’s dried garlic and onion, cumin, oregano, ground coriander seed, some cayenne and sweet paprika. Chilli powder is a combo of spices (much like a curry) and the flavours and quality of the mixtures can and will vary.
I’m fine with using a pre-made blend from the supermarket and then just adjusting or accenting the ingredients in chilli powder that I want to be more pronounced. I may add a pinch of cumin, some more oregano or ground coriander. It’s up to you as your mood can change and your chilli can vary depending on who you’re making it for. A party with adults may lead you to make a spicy chilli and if you’re making it with kids in mind – something more mellow would be offered.
Chili con Carne is a Tex-Mex dish and forget about calling it “Mexican”. It’s an easy dish where I begin with browning lean ground beef then I add onions, olive oil, red and green peppers, garlic, bay leaves, chilli powder, diced tomatoes, canned kidney beans and my added twist on Chilli, whole chipotle peppers in adobo. Chipotles are Jalapeno peppers that have ripened to a red colour then dried and smoked and finally added into an Adobo sauce. You can buy these small cans in the Mexican or International aisle at your supermarket and Latin grocers will carry an array of Chipotles in Adobo for sure! After I’ll adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and I may add some more accented flavour in any one or more of the chilli powder’s ingredients.
These recipe takes about 40 minutes from start to finish: brown meat, add vegetables, spices and seasoning and simmer until thick. This all-in-one skillet meal can also be adapted to slow cookers: brown all the meat and add all the ingredients into a slow cooker and simmer for about 3 hours. A lot of new slow cookers now come with timers but even if you have an old one, simply attach one of those household timers to your cooker’s plug and set the time for when you want the cooker to turn on and when to shut off!
I like Chili with a side of garlic bread or corn bread and some grated cheese on top. You like the cheese to slightly melt in the hot Chilli or place it under the broiler until hot & gooey? Your choice!
Chili con Carne
¼ cup. of extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. of lean ground beef
1 large onion, rough diced
1/2 green bell pepper, rough dice
1/2 red bell pepper, rough dice
3 large cloves of garlic, smashed
1 – 796ml can of diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. of chili powder
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. of ground cumin
½ tsp. of ground coriander
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 – 16oz cans of kidney beans (plus liquid)
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (according to taste)
- In a large skillet, add your oil and set the heat to high and brown the meat and add some salt and pepper.
- Add your onions, garlic, bay leaf, peppers and saute under medium heat for about 10 minutes to soften. Add your diced/chopped cans of tomatoes, the beef, chili powder, kidney beans, oregano, coriander and chipotle peppers.
- Simmer for approx. 30-40 minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked and the chili is thick. Check the seasoning and adjust seasoning with salt. Serve with some corn bread and stay warm with this very comforting meal.
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