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Friday, December 4, 2009

Chili con Carne: One Recipe, Endless Possibilities

I love chili. It’s hearty and comforting, and the spice provides that much needed warmth. Today we are making chili that you can use for many, many future meals. You can easily make a big batch and separate it into smaller portions for freezing. Because you can serve it so many ways, it never feels like the same boring meal over and over.

There are lots of ways to eat chili. Just by itself, with some condiments on top (crème fraiche or sour cream, chives, grated cheese), over rice, with crispy corn chips, layered in pasta (like lasagna)… the possibilities are endless!

Today, we are making chili and serving it up with nachos. If you want to make it healthier, you can use ground chicken instead, but I really prefer the taste and weight of beef.

Chili con Carne
Makes about 3 cups

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Onion, diced
1 Chili, red or green, very finely chopped (do not omit this chili. If you don’t want your chili too spicy, reduce the chili powder)
250 grams Lean Ground Beef
1 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Bay Leaf
¼ cup Cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp Tomato Paste
500 ml Stock (beef is best, but any will do)
1 can Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, add oil, garlic, onions, and chili and cook until then start to soften (about 2 minutes). Add the ground beef, breaking it up with your hands or a spatula. Add the chili, cumin, cinnamon, and bay leaf and cook the mixture until the meat is brown (about 5 minutes). Stir in the cilantro and tomato paste. Then add the stock, bring up to a boil, and reduce to simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans. Season to taste.

For the Nachos

I made them healthy using Pita Chips but you could use any tortilla chips you like. I topped then with:
Pitted Black Olives
Diced Tomatoes
Sliced Green onions
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Grated Mozzarella Cheese
Finely minced Green Chilies

Even distribution of toppings is key. I prefer to lay my chips in basically one layer for this reason.

Serve with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and a side of chili.

You could put the chili on top after cooking the nachos, but I find it makes them a little too soggy for my liking. I prefer to serve it in a bowl on the side. Also, it ensures that each bite has its fair share of chili.

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