Well it’s the final week of the January and my last healthy cooking post- at least for now. If I’ve learned anything with my new year’s resolution, it’s that cooking and providing my family with healthy options is much easier than one may think. Like I always say – it’s all about the planning.
This week it’s my famous Chili Con Carne – a classic that’s been on our menu in the Restaurant since 1914 and one of my family’s year round favorites. With the Super Bowl being next week, I just couldn’t resist. There’s so many things I love about this chili:
- It’s the perfect party dish because it can be made well ahead of time
- It’s always a crowd pleaser
- People can customize it to their liking (with toppings, chips, spice, etc.)
- It’s both affordable and easy
- I always make double and freeze one batch
I tend to make my chili with ground turkey to help make it healthier and leaner, but any type or combination of meat can be used. At home I omit the beer for water to make it gluten-free and love to turn it into nachos by serving the chili atop any type of chips. Make sure to have a well stocked topping bar, so people can make it cheesy, spicy, or anyway they prefer. And as with any crowd pleaser – always be sure to cook extras for seconds or to freeze for later. Cheers!
Chili con Carne has been on the café’s menu since our first surviving printed menus of 1914, and proudly even before. Chili con carne was featured and sold at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where Great-grandfather Herman must surely have had a bowlful. The café’s contemporary version is a year-round favorite and we also use it in the nachos that we serve at the bar. We like the texture of coarsely ground beef, and you can ask the butcher to coarsely grind it for you. The chili powder we use is the mixed seasoning, not straight ground hot chiles.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 cups chopped yellow onion
- 3 pounds coarsely ground beef chuck
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle Berghoff Original Lager
- 2 tablespoons chili seasoning mix
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
- 1 (28-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes and their juice
- 1 seeded, chopped fresh jalapeno
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Oyster crackers, for serving
- Chopped onions, for serving
- Sliced canned jalapenos, for serving
- Grated Cheddar cheese, for serving
Heat oil in a 8- to 10-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent but not brown. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking into small pieces, until the meat browns. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the beer, chili seasoning, and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, kidney beans, tomatoes, and jalapeno and heat through. When the chili comes to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve in individual bowls, and add your favorite topping.
Substitute ground pork or turkey – or a combination of ground meats – for the beef.
To increase the spiciness, increase the hot red pepper sauce to taste, or offer bottled hot sauce so everyone can add it to individual servings as desired.