My First Chili con Carne

When I wanted to try and make chili con carne from scratch for the first time, the natural place to go for a reliable recipe was Richard’s recipe for what he calls Super Bowl Chili, Texas-Style has been the basis. According to Richard (and I consider him a reliable source), true Texas-style chili includes only meat, chile peppers, and spices. This means that the chile peppers used for it are very important, as they are the determining factor in how the chili will taste. This is why I made my own chile powder rather than using store-bought. By using different types of chiles you can achieve great depth of flavor.

The changes I made to Richard’s recipe are that I didn’t use the masa harina and the brick red mole, as that are ingredients I don’t have access to and can be omitted (the brick red mole substituted with a little brown sugar), again according to Richard. I opted to use venison in cubes rather than ground. Another change is that I only made 10% of his recipe, which would have served 24 😉 The smaller amount also simplified the recipe somewhat. Finally, I reduced the chili a bit more than Richard did. I’m not sure if that is authentic, but I prefer to have just a bit of sauce.

I really liked the result and will definitely make this again. There are a few things I will try differently next time. This time I made the chili without tomatoes, which are optional according to Richard. I think they may add some nice ‘fruitiness’ to the chili and I’d like to try out that theory. Other things I’d like to try are to use pork shoulder rather than pork loin as it is juicier and has more flavor, and to cook the chili sous-vide without adding water to see if this will keep the meat more juicy.


For 2 servings

200 grams (.44 lb) venison, cubed

100 grams (.22 lb) pork loin or pork shoulder, cubed

100 grams (.22 lb) stewing beef such as chuck, cubed

4 Tbsp rendered beef fat (from cubed beef fat)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 (or 1 small) pickled chipotle chile, minced

1 Tbsp chile powder (see below)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

120 ml (1/2 cup) beef stock reduced by 50%

120 ml (1/2 cup) beer

pinch of brown sugar (or 1/4 tsp brick red mole)

1/4 tsp ground coriander

grated manchego (for garnish)

For the homemade chile powder (makes more than needed for the chili)

1 Pasilla negra chile

1 Ancho chile

4 Chipotle chiles

1 mild NM Sandia chile

1 hot NM Sandia chile

1 Guajillo chile

Feel free to select chiles of your choice, but I would definitely recommend to include chipotles for their smokiness.

Preparation of the Chile powder

Stem and seed the chiles and roughly chop them.

Roast them for 10 minutes at 125ºC/250ºF to make it easier to grind them and develop their flavor a little.

Transfer the chiles to your food processor.


…until coarsely ground.

Now grind to a fine powder with a spice grinder.

This will make more than needed for the chili, but it will be great to use for other recipes as well. The mixture of chiles used provides a great depth of flavor and it is not overly spicy.

Preparation of the Chili

Cut the beef fat into cubes and put into a casserole over medium heat.

Remove the cracklings with a slotted spoon so the rendered beef fat is left behind.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels so it will brown more easily.

Brown the meat in the beef fat over high heat.

Keep browning until the meat is nicely colored.

Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until it is fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add the beer…

…the chile powder, cumin, oregano, paprika,salt…

…the beef stock…

…the minced pickled chipotle…

…the browned meat and all the juices that have leaked out of it…

…and finally add enough water to cover.

Now bring this mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, and allow to simmer over very low heat, uncovered and stirring now and then, for 2 hours.

Add the sugar and coriander, and allow to simmer for about another hour, still uncovered, over very low heat, and stirring now and then.

Continue to simmer until the meat is tender and the sauce has the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Serve in a warm bowl, garnished with some grated manchego cheese.

Wine pairing

This warm spicy dish with great depth of flavor requires a hell of a wine. And I found one: a 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Another spicy powerful red such as a shiraz should also do the trick.

42 thoughts on “My First Chili con Carne

  1. You ARE becoming a chilehead. 😀 I can’t wait to see what you do with the chile blend you made and I want one of those spice grinders. I’m always using my Vitamix which works but leaves a lot of powder behind.

    I love the recipe and I imagine it was incredibly flavorful. I have never tried to pair down the original recipe primarily because I generally serve it for large gatherings and the kids love it. So, I never had to worry about storage as it was quickly gone.

    The photos are great and have made me really want some chile NOW. We’re having pesto pasta for dinner. Hmmmmm…

    The addition of the venison makes a world of difference in the flavor and character of the sauce. As for the wine, chili is one of those things that I prefer with a nice cold lager or perhaps a pilsner. You also need a nice flour tortilla to mop up all of the sauce.


    1. Glad you like it, Richard 🙂 I didn’t have the chili with tortillas because we had a jerusalem artichoke risotto before it. I usually don’t mix Italian and Tex-Mex in a single night, but I had to use up those jerusalem artichokes 😉


    1. Thanks, Mimi. You gave me a bit of a jolt with your comment about the paprika, because I did use it and thought I had forgotten to mention it in the post. I just checked and it’s there after all. You can also see it in the ingredient shot behind the pork.


      1. Ah! and there it is. I even studied the photo! I guess I was looking for a red can. my mistake. but seriously, there are at least 2 tablespoons of paprika in my chili. don’t know if that’s different from a texas chili. Looks fabulous, and I knowit tasted fabulous!


  2. I second Richard in that you are becoming a ‘chilehead’ 🙂 Love the venison addition! Since I also do not cook for so many people, I usually just use one type of meat, but your post is making me think that maybe I am missing out on the added flavors.


  3. this is a serious cooking undertaking, very impressive Stefan! I have never had chili con carne. Do you think the flavor of the meat is not masked by the seasoning and the chiles? Very complex flavors? I love your spice blender btw… that’s super old school! 🙂


    1. The flavors are very deep and complex. You are correct that the flavor of the meat is masked by the seasoning and chiles — it is more the texture and a general meatiness. This is often the case with recipes that were created when refrigerators did not yet exist (as in: you probably didn’t really want to taste the meat back then).


  4. Great, tasty and spicy recipe, Stefan! Pairing a wine to so spicy and structured a dish is not easy, especially because of the spices. You would need a big, structured wine with plenty of smoothness to compensate for the spiciness of the food. I think that your suggestions sound good. Other “Italian” options might be a bottle of Coppo’s Barbera Pomorosso or either one of two of my favorite Valtellina Superiore: Ar.Pe.Pe. Rocce Rosse or Ultimi Raggi.


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