Finished bowl of Chili con Carne displayed with jalapeños

Chili is a dynamic dish. The variations are endless and since we love Mexican food so very much we decided to stick with their flavor palate and spices. This is our attempt at Chili con Carne. We love the mix of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of peppers, cubed steak along with ground beef, and beans to complete this dish. Also, our recipe just became award winning. At the Red Tomato Farm in Newville, PA it won ‘Best Spicy Chili’. So as I take a bow, in all humility, remember to acknowledge its greatness!

The Basics

From Prep to Completion 2 hours 30 minutes

Temperature Ground meat 165F degrees, Cubed meat 130-140F degrees depending on how ‘done’ you like your meat. I went for medium rare – medium, as it will cook a bit more in the actual chili

Servings 8 hefty bowls of chili

When It Is Done The meat is cooked, the spices, beans, vegetables, and chili sauce have all been combined and it has stewed for roughly 20 minutes and reduced a bit.

Pair With

Variations Seriously anything! Try it with ground pork or turkey, make it vegetarian, or try making it without beans.

Equipment Cast iron pan or open flame, food processor, wire mesh strainer, frying pan, mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and a heavy bottom stock pot.

A Little Bit About: Chili con Carne

Chili and Chili con Carne can essentially be the same thing depending on what your definition of chili is. In my case I consider it the same, just one can be more expensive than the other. In this variation we added cubed steak, specifically, Angus sirloin but usually, we use ground beef along with basic chili powder.

However, this was a labor of love in the kitchen and included a few more additional steps. We experimented on the variations a bit and came up with our own red chili sauce by roasting, rehydrating, and blending the ‘Holy Trinity’ of peppers. Either way, these chili recipes are stews, consisting of tomato, garlic, onion, lots of cumin, and of course some kind of added chile ‘flavor’. Spicy will always be my go to, so mine has a hint of heat with plenty of room to add LOTS more.

Just remember that no chili is perfect. I have a dear friend that calls my chili, soup, because I add beans. Add or remove what you want, but there are some basics, as stated above, to stick to. So enjoy a nice warm bowl of Chili con Carne as the cold weather approaches.

Ingredients for Chile con Carne

If you want authenticity then we recommend that you make your own chile sauce to really up your game! The ‘Holy Trinity’ of chiles is a great place to start.

Finished bowl of Chili con Carne displayed with jalapeños

Teaching Moment

Public Service Announcement – The chilis we use are HOT, especially Chile de Arbol. They are little but painful depending on where they end up. I am going to share a few personal experiences. Gentlemen, if you cut and deseed chilis, please remember to wash your hands TWICE before going pee. Parents, again if you handle chilis, please remember to wash your hands TWICE before changing diapers.

Also, you can avoid most of these mishaps by using gloves, but what is the fun in that? Life comes with risks and challenges, give them a try sometime! One last thing, DO NOT touch your eyes.

What to do with Dried Chiles

Roast them, of course! Dried chiles are wonderful to add in many dishes but with this recipe we like to remove the stems, seeds and seed pod, cut them open and roast both sides. You can do this on a cast iron pan, or over an open fire!

How your pepper should look once its been roasted

Another PSA – When you roast the chiles, make sure to turn on your exhaust fan, open the windows, and get the air circulating. When I do this in my house we all get maced. Me, Ziba, the kids, even the dog. Everyone is coughing, but we also know that a delicious bowl of Chili con Carne is on the horizon.

Nathan covering his face due to the smoke

Rehydrating Dried and Roasted Chili Peppers

After you have maced your loved ones due to roasting the dried chiles, it is now time to rehydrate them. This will make them ‘soggy’ so that you can blend them with olive oil into a rich and vibrant chili paste.

Put them in a heat proof bowl or pan and pour boiling hot water over them until slightly covered. Then place a bowl over the chilis to keep them submerged. It should take roughly 30-60 minutes for them to rehydrate.

Split picture of placing bowl atop roasted peppers in hot water

After you have rehydrated the chiles, combine them with a hefty amount of salt and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Then strain them through a wire mesh to get your completed and spicy ‘chili sauce’.

Split picture of the before and after of running pepper paste through sieve

Making the Time

This recipe is a long and time consuming labor of love. So extra finances might need to go into it regarding the ingredients and of course there is danger involved! See PSA regarding the handling of dried peppers. Even with those variables in consideration, this recipe will be one to keeop. Your family will wipe the pot clean, especially if its made alongside cornbread, because it is just that good. Spend the extra time making this for your family, and if you can, get them all involved. From shopping for the ingredients, cutting the meat and vegetables, roasting the spices, and making the chili sauce. We will always support and promote a family that has fun in the kitchen!

A list of questions to ask at your next meal

Mise en Place:

Read the recipe first | Lay out your ingredients | Prepare your tools | Start cooking

Chili con Carne

Display of ingredients -labeled
Display of ingredients -labeled
Mixing ingredients in a soup pot

[recipe title=”Chili con Carne” servings=”8″ time=”2hr30min” difficulty=”Hard”]

Chili con Carne is the perfect dish for cold and dreary days. A wonderful addition to any baked potato or nacho bar. Try it at your next potluck!


Chile Paste

3-4 ounces of chiles, roughly 10 Chile de arbol, 3 poblano, 6 guajillo

3/4 cup of olive oil

salt to taste and to remove bitterness

reserve chili water to thin out


3 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground

1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground

1 tsp Mexican oregano, dried

1/2 tsp smoked paprika, dried

1/4 tsp black pepper, ground

1 tsp salt


Oil for browning meat

1 pound of Angus sirloin, cubed into 1 inch pieces, salt a day in advance

1 pound ground beef, 80/20 fat content, salt a day in advance

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced

14oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes

28oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

14oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp yellow mustard

1/4 cup water if needed to thin chili

salt to taste

Pico de Gallo

4-6 radishes, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 lime, juiced

salt to taste



  1. Chili Paste: Deseed and remove stems from chilis. Roast over open fire or cast iron skillet till blistered. Set roasted chilis in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Place a bowl atop chilis to keep them submerged. Let sit for 30-60min. Drain and place rehydrated chilis in a food processor along with olive oil and a large pinch of salt. Blend for about 5 min till smooth and then strain through sieve. Set aside. **Your chili might have a bitter taste, that’s OKAY, to combat this keep adding salt till you get it how you like it.
  2. Spice Mix: Add cumin and coriander seeds to a pan over med-high heat. Toast your seeds until they start popping, browning and become fragrant. Remove from heat and into a mortar. Add remaining spices and grind with pestle until it turns into a powder-like consistency. Set aside.
  3. Chili (meat): In a large soup pot, over med-high heat, add 1 tbsp of high heat oil and add in sirloin, cooking until medium rare. Remove and set aside. In the same pot, add ground beef and brown till cooked through, remove and drain on a plate with paper towels. Set aside.
  4. Chili Assembly: In the same soup pot, over med-high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil and sauté bell peppers and onions until onions are translucent, about 3-5 min. Next, sauté garlic for 1 min, then add spice mix and sauté for 1 more min. Lower heat to med-low and add in ground beef, diced and crushed tomatoes, beans, mustard, water and cook for 10 min. Stir in 9-12 tbsp of chili paste (depending on how much heat you would like) and the sirloin, stir and let simmer for 10 min. Taste and adjust with salt and chili paste, as needed.
  5. Serving/Garnish: Combine ingredients to make Pico de Gallo and place atop a generous portion of Chili con Carne.



What to Consider


High heat oil – There are oils that have a high smoke point (ie. good to use for sautéing) such as Grapeseed, Canola, Vegetable, Ghee, Peanut, Sesame and Flax. We generally use a good quality Grapeseed oil.


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