chili con carneThis is another America’s Test Kitchen recipe (I’m really not lying about my addiction), this time from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2009. It’s perfect for Adam and me, neither of whom like ground beef or beans in our chili. It has great heat, the right amount of spice, and lots of layered flavor. And great chunks of beef, which I prefer to ground beef and beans. Really good on a rainy night.

I actually made the full batch of sauce, but I used half as much meat. I just got lazy when I made this last week, and I kept mistakenly using the full amount of ingredients when I was supposed to cut in half. So my version was saucier, but next time I will just cut the whole thing in half.

I served it with yellow rice, and I sprinkled cilantro and a dollop of sour cream salsa on top.

Easy Chili con Carne (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 6 to 8

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo
4 slices bacon, chopped fine (**NOTE: you’ll be using the bacon fat, so you may also need vegetable oil if you don’t get the full 3 tablespoons of bacon fat required. I didn’t need the oil.)
1 (3.5-4 lb) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped fine
1 japalepeno chile, seeded and chopped fine (I forgot to get this ingredient, I used a little extra chili powder and was fine)
3 tablespoons chili powder
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced (I bought a garlic press for this, and I love it!)
4 cups water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow corn muffin mix (you’ll have to buy the book for the explanation of this ingredient, but just trust that it works)

Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven (or large pot) over medium heat until crispy, about 8 minutes.

cooking bacon

Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and save 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Meanwhile, pulse the tomatoes and chipotle in a food processor until smooth.

Pat the beef dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of the beef and brown, about  minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a bowl, and repeat this whole step with the other half of the beef.

chili beef

Add the last tablespoon of bacon fat, onion, and jalapeno to the empty pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes (this is where I substituted some high quality chili powder, a couple of teaspoons of the mix Adam brought from Santa Fe).

chili onions

Stir in the chili powder (regular supermarket variety), cumin, oregano, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

chili seasonings

Stir in the water, pureed tomato mixture, bacon, browned beef, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Skim the fat and continue to simmer uncovered until the meat is tender, 30 to 45 minutes.


Ladle 1 cup of the chili liquid into a medium bowl and stir in the corn muffin mix.

sauce and muffin mix

Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until it’s thickened, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk the mixture back into the chili and simmer until the chili is slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

thickening the chili