Making Chili Con Carne

Chili con carne is a traditional hearty, spicy dish. While you may enjoy the occasional can of chili con carne, you can create an even better version from scratch. But there is one rule you must follow, or you'll ruin this dish.

What Is Chili Con Carne?
Chili con carne roughly translates to "chili with meat." A traditional chili con carne recipe is made with cubes of beef and chili peppers. Throughout time, people have altered the recipe to include tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cumin. Each recipe varies depending on the cook's taste, but very few stick to the basic ingredients.

A Brief History of This Spicy Dish
While many who enjoy Mexican food love chili con carne, it's important to note that the dish isn't Mexican. Chili con carne is one of those dishes that no one actually knows from where it originates. Some say that a Spanish nun by the name of Sister Mary of Agreda was the first to write down the recipe in 1618. Other legends hold that Spanish settlers brought the recipe with them to America in 1731. Yet another legend states that Texas cowboys invented the first chili con carne mix in 1850. The only truth we have about chili con carne is that it isn't a Mexican recipe.

Basic Chili Con Carne Recipe Ingredients
Ingredients for traditional chili con carne include cubes of beef, chili peppers and water. If you want more flavor, you can add a variety of different ingredients. People often add tomato sauce and tomato paste to give their chili con carne a rich taste and thicker texture. Another popular ingredient is cumin. Cumin adds a smoky flavor to chili con carne and is found in most of today's recipes. The ingredients you use will depend on your palate. Try some recipes for chili con carne, and taste as you cook. Your taste buds may call out for more cumin or even some of your favorite hot sauce.

The Number One Rule of Chili Con Carne
There is one big no-no when it comes to making chili con carne. In fact, it's even a law in Texas. Chili con carne should not contain beans. Texans see beans as unnecessary filler. Beans can take away from the flavor of the rich sauce and allow the cook to be skimpy with the meat. Obviously, your own chili con carne recipe will be made to suit your own taste buds. If you want to add beans, add them. Just don't plan on inviting any Texans over for supper.

How to Serve Chili Con Carne
There are a thousand different ways to serve this dish. Obviously, the most common way is straight up. But some people like to add sour cream, cheese, green onions and other kinds of toppings. Chili con carne has even been known to be served as a topping on pasta and nachos. You can add chili con carne and cheese to a tortilla to make a tasty burrito. You can even add this tasty sauce to a baked potato. The possibilities are endless. So, instead of throwing out all that leftover chili con carne, why not get creative with it?

It doesn't matter if you're in San Antonio or Cincinnati; you're bound to find a good bowl of red. If you want the best bowl of chili con carne, though, you have to start from scratch. Making your own batch not only allows for second helpings, but it also allows you to control the flavor as well. You can even sneak in a few of those illegal beans. Just don't tell any Texans.

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