Sunday 29 July 2012

Recipe - Red Valentine Chili con Carne

Before I follow up on my last post about the red valentine's beans, I'd like to publish a disclaimer citing that in truth I never really make the same chili twice. There are some basic principles that seldom change, though usually I like to play around with it. Chili is the kind of recipe that you can make so many different ways so I usually take advantage of that. This chili turned out great, so if it tickles your fancy you might want to try it out. Just bear in mind that like all chili recipes, this is very versatile and you can make it your own in a variety of ways. 

You may also notice that chocolate appears on the ingredient list. No, that's not a typo. Believe it or not, a trace of dark chocolate really cooperates well with the spice mixture. Central Americans have been combining chocolate with chilies in recipes for centuries. Is it necessary for a delicious chili? No. So if it worries you, just omit it. However if you've never tried it I recommend that you do. You don't want to end up with a chocolatey chili. There's only a trace of it intended to enhance the overall flavour but not enough to be detectable. For example, out of a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate divided into 21 squares, I only used 2 squares which came out to just under 10 grams. 

This recipe uses a slow cooker so the total cooking time is about ten hours but only takes a few minutes of prep work and it does the rest of the job for you. So without further ado... red valentine bean chili...


2 lbs of lean ground beef
1 onion (chopped)
4 stalks of celery (chopped)
1 large green pepper (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (coarsely chopped)
5 small red chili peppers (coarsely chopped)
1 cup of fresh red valentine beans
1 540 ml can of green lentils
1 800 ml can of crushed tomatoes
2 limes
approx 10 grams of dark chocolate


2½ tbsp chili powder 
1  tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp dried thyme
½ tbsp brown sugar
1 dried bay leaf
salt & pepper (to taste)


Brown the meat on medium-high heat using the fat or oil of your choice. Season with salt and pepper and drain thoroughly. Dump into the crock of your slow cooker and pour in the crushed tomatoes and all the spices. Mix well. 

Cook on low for five hours. Just before the five hour mark, strain the can of lentils and rinse thoroughly with cold water and reserve. Take your bit of chocolate (see picture for reference of how much I used) and chop into a few pieces. 

Sautée the onion, celery, and green pepper in a lightly oiled pan over medium-high heat. 

Holy Trinity!
After about four minutes, add the garlic and chili peppers and continue to sautée for two minutes. 

Skim any fat from the surface of the chili. Add the chocolate pieces and stir until they melt into the chili. Add the lentils, the red valentine beans and the sautéed vegetables to the chili.

After you've mixed everything together, replace the lid and allow the chili to cook undisturbed for  another five hours. 

After the chili has been cooking for a total of ten hours, skim any remaining fat from the top and serve. Chili goes great with rice and, my personal favourite, corn bread. You could even eat it own its own and top it with things like grated cheese, sour cream, sliced scallions, or lime zest. 

Be happy and stay fed,


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