You call it Chili, we call it Chilli Con Carne. Whatever you know, the seductive smell of a pot of chilies bubbling on the stove is a universal language!!
Prepare it as a quick meal, but if you have the time to cook slowly, you’ll be rewarded with super tender beef and an extra succulent sauce. Serve over rice or corn chips for dipping. Or make a cozy southern meal with cornbread or cornbread muffins!
Chili con carne recipe
Texans have claimed chile as their own, even going so far as to legally make it the official dish of Texas (!!?). Although apparently there is evidence that traces the origins of Chile to Spain. Imagine that! 🙂
Fans of Texas Chile will tell you it is illegal to add beans to chili. They will also tell you that there is no canned tomato, that it is made with beef cubes and not ground/ground beef, and that it MUST be made with whole chili peppers that have been dried, rehydrated and then reduced mashed.
Right here is a great authentic Texas chili recipe I tried, if you’re so inclined to try the real thing.
So it’s not a hard-core Texas chili. It’s the chilli as most people know itas I had always known until I visited Texas.
What is Chili Con Carne?
The dish simply known as Chili in the USA and Canada is known as Chilli Con Carne here in Australia and the UK.
It looks like bolognese and is cooked like bolognese – except there’s a load of tex-mex spices added. It tastes like a sassy take on the great ground beef taco filling we all know and love (which can’t be found anywhere in Mexico!!).
It’s supposed to be spicy – but I won’t judge if you can’t stand the heat!
What goes into the chilli
How to make chilli
I really mean it when I say it’s cooked like Bolognese! The steps are exactly the same and most of the ingredients – except for adding the spices and beans.
Much like bolognese, chili con carne can be simmered for just 20 minutes as a quick mid-week meal, which is delicious, but if you have the time to slow cook for a few hours, you will really take it to another level. The beef becomes super tender, the sauce enriched in a way that only slow cooking can render.
homemade chilli powder
A note on chili powder– I have always made my chili using homemade chili powder rather than a store bought mix for two reasons:
Chilli powder (an “L”) as it is called in the US and Canada, which is commonly used in chilli recipes shared by US chefs/bloggers etc. is not readily available outside of the United States; what we call chilli powder (two ‘L’s) here in Australia and most of the rest of the world is pure ground chilli and it’s super hot; and
Chili powder is a non-spicy seasoning blend, not just pure ground chili, and different brands differ in flavor and quality. Thus, the use of homemade chili powder makes it possible to greater consistency in the end result no matter where you are in this wide world.
How and what to serve with chili
Ah, the fun part – how to serve it!! While it’s perfectly acceptable to place a large pot of chili in the center of the table and everyone rushes in armed with corn chips, here are other more respectable ways to serve it:
In a bowl with toppings, with a side of hot tortilla chips or tortillas for dipping (common in the US);
Over rice with toppings (reasonable dinner option, typical in the UK and Australia);
With cornbread on the side, try these quick and easy sweet cornbread muffins;
On hot fries with cheese sauce – Chili Fries!
In baked potatoes;
Topped with cornbread batter and baked – Tamale Pie!
In soft buns – Chili Sloppy Joes;
On the hot dogs – Chili Dogs!!! ↓↓↓
There are a plethora of topping options, although the first two aren’t really “options” (IMHO):
sour cream (required in my world) or yogurt (for a healthier option)
grated cheese (also mandatory)
fresh cilantro/cilantro leaves, thinly sliced green onions or chopped red onions
pico de gallo
fresh slices of jalapeño pepper or other pepper of your choice
For mid week meal, I serve it over rice because, as stated above, it’s “the most sensible option”. For gatherings, Chilli Dogs are great because nothing binds people together better than digging into messy food together – the added bonus is that a pot of chili goes a long way (yields ~20 Chili Dogs).
My favorite way to serve chili is with tortilla chips with sour cream, cheese and cilantro because it’s a crazy good combination. It’s like a deconstructed Nachos – but more saucey. And y’all know I love my sauce!!! –Nagi x
Chilli con carne
Watch how to do it
Chilli con carne
Preperation: ten minutes
To cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings5 – 6 persons
Tap or hover to scale
Video recipe above. Everyone’s favorite chili, nice and sassy! Made with a chili powder from scratch rather than a store bought blend. Make a quick midweek version, but when you have the time, it’s well worth the slow cook. See notes for serving and garnish options!
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook 1 minute, then add bell pepper and cook 2 minutes until onion is translucent.
Raise the heat to high and add the beef. Cook, breaking it up as you go, until almost golden.
Add the chili spice mix. Cook until the beef is completely browned. (This step helps release the extra flavor from the spices)
Add the remaining ingredients, along with 1/2 cup water for quick cooking or 1 1/2 cups for slow cooking. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat according to the steps below:
Quick cooking – 20 to 40 minutes, uncovered, over medium-low heat so that it bubbles gently; WHERE
Slow cooking – 1h30 to 2h, covered, over low heat so that it bubbles very gently. (Note 3 Slow cooker)
Adjust salt and pepper to taste just before serving.
Serve over rice or spoon into bowls and serve with tortilla chips or warm tortillas on the side with your choice of toppings (Note 6). See note 7 for more service options. My habit: either on rice or with corn chips, always with sour cream, cheese and cilantro.
2. Spicy – Chili is supposed to be hot! Use 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper pepper for a warm buzz, 1.5 tsp for a nice tingle, or 2 tsp for a medium spiciness. The best way is to start with less and then add more at the end.
3. SLOW COOKER: It’s spectacular made in the slow cooker. Simply follow the recipe steps up to step 4 using only 1/4 cup water then pour everything into the slow cooker. Cook it for 6 hours over low heat in the slow cooker. Even 8 hours will be enough.
4. Storage – even better the next day and freezes fabulously.
5. Serving suggestions: The two most common ways to serve a meal are:
i) Ladle into bowls and serve with toppings of your choice, tortilla chips or tortillas for dipping (or try this easy flatbread);
ii) Over rice with toppings
Other ways (see in post for details): Chili Dogs (makes about 20, highly recommend slow cooking to break the beef down into small pieces), Chili Fries, Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Sloppy Joes, Tamale Pie (use this recipe which I’ve since discovered that it’s a real recipe called Tamale Pie, not just something I made up!), mixed with pasta, baked pasta, with cornbread (make muffins or a big one).
6. Toppings: Sour cream and shredded cheese (both required in my world), cilantro/coriander leaves, sliced green onions, diced red onion, Pico de Gallo, diced avocado, sliced jalapeño, or other chilies.
7. Food per serving assuming 5 servings. Chilli Con Carne only, no rice or toppings.
Chilli con carne
Amount per serving (280g)
Calories from fat 91
% Daily Value*
Saturated fat 2.9g18%
Vitamin A 1550IU31%
Vitamin C 83.3mg101%
The iron 22.3mg124%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Originally posted Jun 2016. Recipe slightly improved Aug 2018 with more sauce and slightly better seasonings. Updated photos and post, added recipe video and of course new bulldozer life! ↓↓↓
Portion: 280gcalories: 367callus (18%)Carbohydrates: 30.5g (ten%)Protein: 39.6g (79%)Fat: 10.1g (16%)Saturated fat: 2.9g (18%)Cholesterol: 90mg (30%)Sodium: 443mg (19%)Potassium: 1275mg (36%)Fiber: 7.3g (30%)Sugar: 7.2g (8%)Vitamin A: 1550UI (31%)Vitamin C: 83.3mg (101%)Calcium: tenmg (1%)The iron: 22.3mg (124%)
The life bulldozer
At work – keep the food.
And since I first published this post in winter 2016. Yes, I said winter. He doesn’t understand what it is.