Chili Con Carne

So… post about cooking, attempt the second. I’ll try to make this a regular feature on this blog now. Keep your fingers crossed.

Today: Chili Con Carne. I got this thing about making stuff entirely myself, no spice mixtures, no supermarket bread… I do allow soup cubes and canned broth, though. You can buy some rather decent spice mixtures for chili here in Germany, but I feel bad about using those, even though they don’t contain anything chemically offensive, like artificial colouring or flavour enhancers. It’s a Verena thing. So I’ve been on the hunt for an edible chili recipe for ages. And there’s a lot of them out there, let me tell you. Chili with beef or lamb or pork. Chili with cumin or thyme or basil. With beer or broth or red wine. With cayenne pepper or tabasco or fresh chilies. With vinegar or Worcestershire sauce. I could continue for quite a while, but I trust you get my drift.

In general I find that recipes that use wine as a base tend to taste too much like Bolognese sauce and those that use a lot of exotic spices such as cumin, coriander and curcuma tend to taste too much like curry. So, after searching for more than a year and trying a good dozen recipes in the process, I settled for using a mixture of all the recipes that worked best so far, and the result was surprisingly pleasant. (I also used way too much cayenne pepper the first time around and almost killed all our guests… trial and error, my dears, trial and error.) I serve my chili with sour cream to take off some of the hotness, so give that a try too, if you like.

Shopping List for 4:

2 small onions, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
500 g/17 oz of ground meat (pork/beef mix is best, but feel free to go wherever your dietary restrictions take you)
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can skinned tomatoes in juice
1/2 leek, chopped
300 ml chicken broth
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp ground rosemary
1/2 tsp sage
1 laurel leaf
as much cayenne pepper as you dare (I use 2-3 tbsp and it’s plenty hot)
salt & pepper
(optional: freshly chopped coriander leaves)

For the sour cream:

1 carton/200 ml sour cream
juice of 1/2 lime
3-4 spring onions, chopped
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Fry for maybe three minutes until the onion is very slightly browned, then add the garlic. Fry for another minute. Add the meat and fry until well-browned and crumbly.

Add the kidney beans and the tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil, then add the leek.

Add the broth and bring to a boil again, then add all the spices except the coriander. Cover the pot and let it simmer for at least forty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now is a good time to prepare the sour cream. Stir the sour cream until it is smooth and season with salt and pepper, then add the juice of half a lime and three or four finely chopped spring onions. Cool until serving.

Once the chili has reached a nice, thick consistency, add the freshly chopped coriander (if using) and pepper and salt to taste. You can also add more cayenne pepper now if it isn’t hot enough.

Serve with the sour cream mixture and bread. And beer. And tortilla chips. And… ah, never mind.

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