Cookisto Chilli con Carne

Funny things I’ve found out on my long food journey.  Apparently, Chilli con Carne is the state dish of Texas! It’s known to be more TexMex than pure Mexican.  Not having been to either Texas or Mexico, I find it difficult to imagine how it should taste.  Chilli con Carne is simply chilli with meat - Chilli sin Carne is the veggie version. 

Lots of controversy surrounds whether you should add beans, or even onions, tomatoes and garlic.  Some people reckon freshly brewed coffee or chocolate is a must.  I admit, I think coffee (not instant) or chocolate (dark only) adds a very interesting and delicious dimension to the dish, as does cumin or caraway.  Perhaps not authentic, but like many other dishes that have travelled all over the globe, it’ll always be different.

Unless you grow them yourself, it’s not easy to get chipotle or ancho chillies except on line.  That’s fine, but if you get the urge to knock up a chilli on a Sunday evening, you’re a bit stumped.  I add dried chilli flakes at the beginning and a mix of fresh green and red chillies towards the end of cooking time to give the sauce a fresh taste.

The most important rule (if there are such rules) is to cook the sauce for, at least, 2 hours. The long cooking time deepens and rounds the flavours beautifully.  This is also the secret behind a top class ragu sauce. It’s debatable whether you should use very finely diced or minced beef. Personally, I think it depends on what you’re serving it with.  Mince definitely suits pasta whereas the diced beef sits nicely with rice.

I always finish the dish off with a blob of soured cream and chopped, fresh dill.  Dunno where I got that from but for me it works!!