Dreams of Coney Island

Chili con carne

My brother is a health nut. Almost every day for lunch he has a tuna salad (tuna in springwater, chopped vegetables with no dressing!) and he rarely if ever indulges in naughty things such as sweets, cookies, cakes or chocolate. In fact, I often have to cajole him to give any of my baking a try (and every time he refuses, I let him know very loudly that his knockback is in fact breaking my poor, fragile little heart). However, outside of this tuna-salad-and-calorie-watching-addiction, I can usually get his nose sniffing with something robust and meaty, so whenever he drops a hint that he might like a dish this way inclined, it usually has me scrabbling for a pen and paper to draw up a shopping list so I can get cracking in the kitchen!

Quite some time ago now, my brother told me that he’d spent about an hour on Wikipedia, looking up all manner of different dishes that are well known in the U.S…and then proceeded to describe them to me one by one. Of course, my memory being what it is *cough* (nonexistant!), I promptly forgot all of them bar one…his mention of the Coney Island chili dog. Why? Well, because I’d been rather absentmindedly listening to him when he was telling me all about it, so for some reason I’d had it stuck in my head it was a chilly dog rather than chili dog. Right dog, wrong chili.

Every now and then, I’d remember that he’d looked rather lovesick when he was talking about this dish and I’d tell myself that I had to give it a try for him, and then it would almost immediately slip my mind as I thought about all the other dishes that I wanted to try. Well, the fact that I’d never actually seen/tasted chili before and didn’t have the foggiest idea what it was probably didn’t help!

Chili con carne

What with having forgotten about it for so long, it was with a bit of surprise that I wrote down “chili dog” onto my list of things to try last week. I had no idea why it had been jogged in my memory, but now that it was so firmly planted in the forefront of my mind, it was not going to leave till I had satisfied the desire to create it. Since I didn’t actually know what a chili dog consisted of (other than something called chili and a hot dog), my next stop was my computer, so I could rely on the trusty intarwebs to tell me what it was that I’d be cooking!

A quick google search led me to this recipe, which, as far as authentic went, I thought was probably what my brother was thinking…except that, well, the fact that it was just mince and onion didn’t really thrill me. Where were the contrasting textures that I’m such a fan of? I turned to Wikipedia to try and find the article that my brother had told me about, and though I couldn’t find one about the humble chili dog, I did find one about chili con carne that took my fancy far more. Although the ‘original’ chili consisted of just meat and chilli, reading down the article, I found mention of beans and tomatoes and capsicums (bell peppers) and my brain started to tick. I already had cans of cannellini and kidney beans in my pantry which were looking for purpose in their lives, so they would definitely have to help this dish along. As for tomatoes, I thought a tin of whole, peeled roma tomatoes might do the trick in that department…and so began my quest for an acceptable dish of tongue-sizzling chili that would fulfill my brother’s desire and satisfy his appetite :)

I really don’t know how authentic this is as chili just isn’t a dish you encounter much here in Australia, but my third attempt has resulted in a dish that my brother can’t seem to stop guzzling down! To those of you who are familiar with what this dish is meant to be, let me know what you think :)

Chili con carne

Wingin’ It Chili Con Carne

Ingredients
700g beef mince
1 large yellow onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green capsicum (bell pepper), cored and diced
400g tin peeled whole roma tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1x 400g can red kidney beans, drained
1x 400g can cannellini beans, drained
2 tbsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

To serve:
Sour cream, fresh diced onion, cheese, pita chips, cheese

1. Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then fry the onion and capsicum till the capsicum is soft enough to be somewhat easily pierced with a fork, then empty into a dish and set aside.

2. Add another 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pot and brown the mince and garlic, breaking up any large clumps of mince, and then add all the spices (chilli flakes, chilli powder, cayenne, paprika, oregano, cumin), and stir through till you can smell them quite strongly.

3. Add the capsicum and onion back to the pot, then add the tinned roma tomatoes, beef stock, tomato paste and sugar and stir through till everything is well combined. Taste, then add salt and pepper to taste, then add the drained beans and leave to gently simmer with the lid off for about 1 1/2 – 2hrs, or till the liquid has mostly reduced and the chili is nice and thick.

4. Leave till completely cool, then put into an airtight container and leave overnight in the fridge for the flavours to develop even more. Gently heat the next day, and enjoy whatever way you like :)

[tags]chili con carne, chili dogs, Coney Island, comfort food, spicy, chilli, TexMex Cuisine, recipes[/tags]

Comments

  1. Pete Beverley says:

    I have a couple of chilli recipes if you’d like to try them, maybe your brother can give some feedback?

  2. Thanks for the offer, Pete. Feel free to email them through, but I have no idea when I’d get round to them as there is a bucketload of recipes in my to-do list.

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