Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chili con Carne Part Deux

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Chili con Carne was a special request of my colleagues at work. After the soup last week, they specifically asked for this dish since they associated the white beans I used for the vegetarian soup last week to chili con carne. However, I made the Texan version which is pure diced meat floating in a thick rich chili sauce. This also marked the first time I used fresh tomatoes instead of the usual canned ones that I find very convenient to use. It wasn't a really a conscious decision but since I'm buying my ingredients from the local market here, I had to settle for fresh tomatoes. In short, I had no choice.

Copyright LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The dish is quite spicy due to the fact that I totally forgot about the difference in the spice level of the local chili and those available in the US grocery stores. I was glad to find chili powder in bulk but the fact that it is more of an orange red color and not the intense dark red color of the chili powders in the US should have been a red flag to me. I was quickly reminded how intense they were after my initial taste so I had to add less to make sure that those who would like to try the dish can eat it without having to run to the nearest source of water. I also used fresh local chilis (the taxonomy of which I am unsure) and after deseeding and deveining then, I was happy to find out that they were quite sweet and not as potent while adding a whole new dimension to the flavor of the dish. Cilantro was nowhere to be found so I did away with it. Sour cream was also difficult to find here in the local market so I bought about a cup of heavy cream and soured it with a couple of tablespoons of the local citrus, Calamondin. Lemon juice or white vinegar will also work if you can't find sour cream in your local grocery stores. I wanted to make corn bread but finding corn meal is a challenge so I opted to buy the steamed rice cakes in the market and they go beautifully together as well.

Chili con Carne Part Deux

4 lbs beef, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs fresh tomatoes, diced
4 tbsp olive oil + a few tbsp extra
1/4-1/3 cup chili powder*
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp cumin
salt and black pepper
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp oregano
3 cups beef broth
1/3 cup tomato paste
6  fresh chili, deseeded, deveined and diced
sour cream

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil at medium high heat and brown the diced 
    beef in batches. Set aside until all the diced beef have been browned. 

2. In the same pot, saute the garlic and onions. Season with salt and black 
    pepper. Saute until softened. Add the fresh chilis and saute for another 
    minute. Add more olive oil if a bit dry.

3. Lower the heat to medium low and add the chili powder, coffee, oregano, 
    cumin and cayenne powder. Saute for about a minute until aromatic. 

4. Add the tomatoes and season with salt. Mix well and saute until the 
    tomatoes are softened. Increase the heat to medium high and add the 
    browned beef and the broth. Bring to a boil. 

5. Once boiling, cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring 
    occasionally. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer covered for 40 

6. Add the tomato paste and check for flavor. Adjust accordingly. Simmer 
    for another hour or longer until the beef is tender. 

7. If too thick, add some water until the desired consistency is achieved. 
    Check for flavor one last time and serve warm with a dollop of sour 

LtDan'sKitchen blogs
* The original recipe I have uses 1/3 cup chili powder but depending on your tolerance for spicy food and the variety of chili powder available in your local grocery stores, I suggest you go with 1/4 cup to start with and if you think you can handle more heat, then go add some more chili powder. Most Asian chili powders are a lot more spicy but a little bit less aromatic so I added more cumin and fresh chilis to compensate. Freshly baked corn bread or a freshly steamed rice cake is definitely a wonderful way to cool off the heat in your mouth. 

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