An all-time tex-mex classic chilli con carne recipe, low in fat and using mainly store cupboard ingredients.
I remember my mother giving us chilli con carne for the first time back in the 1960s. She proudly announced we were going to have something ‘exotic’ and ‘very Spanish’. I had never heard of it but she had lived in Canada for a while and brought some of these ‘exotic’ recipes back to the UK.
Being a strictly meat and two veg dinner type of person, this really was quite exciting. I was sold on the spices and heat and have been a chilli lover ever since.
A Bit of History
Texas food historian Robb Walsh subscribes to the theory that the recipe originated with San Antonio’s Canary Islander population. As a bulwark against possible French expansion in Texas, the Isleños, as they were known, were encouraged to move to San Antonio with the promise of becoming hidalgos, literally “sons of something”—basically, minor Spanish nobles. In 1731, sixteen Canarian families (a total of 56 people) took up residence in the new town, joining a mixed population of the clergy, soldiers, and mission Indians. Almost immediately, the Canarians became the city’s business and political elite, and also, according to Walsh, gave us chilli.
Chilli con Carne was introduced to Americans by the “Chili Queens,” women who served food in San Antonio’s Military Plaza as early as the 1860s. Their chilli stands were also common in Galveston and Houston; they were the taco trucks of the 1800s. Tamales with chilli were the most common order, beans were often added.
The original Tex-Mex food, chilli con carne has been the official state dish of Texas for over 40 years!
Don’t be afraid to add or remove chillis or chilli powder to taste. I cook some chilli paste separately and stir it in once I have dished up my wife’s meal.
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Chilli con Carne
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Large onion diced
- 1 Red pointed pepper halved, de-seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
- 1 tsp Hot chilli powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Ground cumin
- 500 g Lean Beef mince 10% fat or less
- 300 ml Hot beef stock
- 400 g Chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp Dried marjoram
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 2 tbsp Tomato puree
- 400 g Tinned kidney beans in chilli sauce
- Long grain rice
- Soured cream
- Limes quartered
- Cut the pepper in half lengthways, remove the stalk and seeds and chop. Finely chop the garlic cloves.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper, chilli powder, paprika and cumin. Mix well and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn the heat up a bit, add the mince to the pan and break it up with a spoon or spatula. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring until there are no more pink bits. Make sure you keep the heat hot enough for the meat to fry and become brown, rather than just stew.
- Add the beef stock to the mince mixture, along with the chopped tomatoes, marjoram and sugar and season well. Add the tomato puree and stir well.
- Bring to the boil, stir well and cover. Turn down the heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to stop it sticking on the bottom and add a couple of tbsp's of water if it is drying out.
- Add the chilli beans, stir, bring to the boil and simmer for another 10 minutes without the lid, adding more water if it looks dry. Replace the lid, turn off the heat, and leave to stand for 10 minutes to relax before serving.
- Serve with soured cream and plain boiled long grain rice or over a jacket potato.