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Chili Con Carne

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Serves 4

  • by Ellie Krieger from Fine Cooking
    Issue 109

Too much salt isn't good for you, but too little makes for a bland meal. This robust Chili Con Carne strikes the right balance. With high-impact flavor elements—pure ground chile, freshly toasted and ground coriander and cumin seeds—you get maximum flavor without overdosing on the salt that's often added to packaged chili powder blends. Aromatic herbs and citrus punch up the flavor as well, making this a new favorite dish for game night—or any night.

  • 1 Tbs. whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbs. ground ancho chile
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle chile
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 lb. boneless beef chuck, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium poblano, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14-1/2-oz.) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 (15-oz.) can low-sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, cut into medium dice
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Toast the cumin and coriander in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind into a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and add the ancho, chipotle, and oregano.

Season the meat with 1/4 tsp. salt. Heat 2 tsp. of the oil in a 6-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of the meat and cook until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate. Repeat with another 2 tsp. oil and the remaining meat.

After transferring the second batch of meat to the plate, add the remaining 2 tsp. oil to the pot. Add the onion, poblano, and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the spice mixture and cook until fragrant and well blended, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Return the beef to the pot, along with any accumulated juice. Add 2-1/2 cups water, the tomatoes and their juice, 1 Tbs. of the lime juice, and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1-1/2 hours. Remove the lid and simmer until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes more. Add the beans, raise the heat to medium high, and stir until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. lime juice and season to taste with additional salt.

Serve the chili garnished with the avocado, red onion, and cilantro.

Make Ahead Tips

For the best flavor, plan to make this chili at least 1 day and up to 3 days ahead.

Serving Suggestions

Make it a party; serve with Homemade Tortilla Chips and Guacamole with Roasted Chile, Cumin, and Feta.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 610; Fat (g): 30; Fat Calories (kcal): 270; Saturated Fat (g): 8; Protein (g): 53; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17; Carbohydrates (g): 33; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4; Sodium (mg): 960; Cholesterol (mg): 120; Fiber (g): 13;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This was very good!

The flavors were all those that we love from our native California roots. Inadvertently didn't get the poblano, and so used can of diced green Hatch chiles from my pantry. Worked fine, I think. Cooked it all a half hour less (before uncovering) 'cause ran out of time. Meat was nicely tender. We love pinto beans, and so added another can to remaining (only ate half). We'll see how the second part of this batch goes after some time to rest/blend.

Easy to make and tastes good but not great.

YUM!!! Absolutely delish. I eyeball spice amounts and use ground if I don't have whole. I couldn't find poblano in my grocery store, so added a sweet red pepper. Love the chipotle and lime. Leftovers, if there are any, freeze well.

No need to ever try another recipe for this dish, is how I feel! I love it when that happens! I agree with the other reviewers, make a double batch because it goes quick (and it's even just my husband and I here). Perfectly spiced, meat very tender, garnishes are great.

Delicious! The meat was so tender my husband was picking it out of the chili the next day. I thought it made a large batch and we had plenty of leftovers. The avocado garnish was a nice touch.

Delicious! The meat was so tender my husband was picking it out of the chili the next day. I thought it made a large batch and we had plenty of leftovers. The avocado garnish was a nice touch.

This was fantastic! Best chili I ever had. Need to make more though in a batch as my husband nearly ate all of it in a day. I highly recommend.

It is a great change from our 'traditional' chili! Nice and spicy and great flavors. Loved the avocado, cilantro and onion garnish. The kids added some cheese to their bowls. Next time I will make a bigger batch, since there were no leftovers!

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