When you think of chili, you think rich, meaty, spicy, flavorful, right? Something that’s delicious on its own, but even better when you treat it like a pizza and top it with your favorite things. At least that’s how I see it and this Hearty Homestyle Chili Con Carne always hits the spot!
I start with a pound of pinto beans for this chili. I know that kidney beans are more traditional, but I have to be honest, I think the skins are tough and chewy and I’ve never really liked kidney beans. I mean, a couple floating in a minestrone is fine… but I don’t want a whole pot of them. If you disagree — feel free to change it up. The beans soak in water overnight before being rinsed and then simmered until tender.
What makes this chili special is that it’s not relying on canned chili powder for its heat. Instead, I use dried New Mexico or Guajillo chiles to make a paste with water, garlic, a chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. This combination gives a low-steady heat, which you can amp up with more chipotles or other hot sauces if you like… I usually wait until serving so that everyone can take it to their own personal Scoville level.
The sauce is deep and rich but not overly spicy. It’s a great base for this chili recipe.
Once the beans are tender, begin to assemble the chili.
Start by browning the beef and sautéing the onion and pepper until just softened. A little cumin will give your nose the first hint that a chili is coming…
Diced tomatoes, beef broth, oregano and chile paste come next. Season with salt and pepper — and taste it as you go so you can adjust it to your liking.
Simmer the chili for 20-30 minutes or until it’s thick and fragrant.
Hearty Homestyle Chile Con Carne
A flavorful but not overly spicy pot of chili with dried Mexican chiles and chipotle peppers, blended to a gorgeous chile paste. This hearty meal starts with a bag of dried Pinto beans, so it's best to soak the beans the night before.
For The Chile Paste:
- 8 Guajillo or New Mexico chiles dried
- 2 cups hot water (not boiling)
- 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (depends on how much spice you like)
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 3/4 cup water
For The Chili:
- 1 pound pinto beans dried
- 1 1/2 pounds ground round can use ground chuck
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 green pepper seeded and chopped
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1/2 cup chile paste (recipe given)
- 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from can of chipotle peppers)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- chopped cilantro
- sliced green onions
- cheddar or monterey jack cheese shredded
- sour cream
- fresh cilantro
Soak The Beans
Place the pinto beans in a heavy dutch oven and fill with water so that it covers the beans by an inch. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. (Alternately, can do a quick soak method: Bring the beans to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Put the lid on the pot and turn off the heat. Let stand for 2 hours, then proceed to cook as usual)
Make the Chile Paste:
Remove the stems from the chiles and slice them open. Remove the seeds and the membrane.
Heat a cast iron skillet over low heat and rest the chiles one at a time on the skillet, pressing the pepper with a spatula to make sure that all parts come into contact with the pan and wake up the essential oils in the peppers. Heat both sides of the peppers until they just start to turn color -- but don't overcook or they will be bitter.
Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with hot water. Let the peppers rehydrate for 15-20 minutes before removing them from the water and transferring to a blender. Add the chipotle peppers and garlic to the chiles. Add 3/4 cup water and blend to form a paste. Set aside.
Make The Chili:
Rinse and drain the beans. Cover the beans with fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2-2 hours or until beans are tender.
Meanwhile, place a large (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium high heat add the ground beef and cook, breaking up chunks with the back of a spoon. Add the onions and peppers and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Drain the cooked beans and return them to the dutch oven. Heat the pot over medium-medium high heat. Add the ground beef mixture, tomatoes, beef broth, homemade chile paste, 1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce (depending on how hot you like it) and the oregano, stirring to combine. Bring chile just to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes for flavors to marry, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve with desired garnishes.
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