Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Murky World of Chili Con Carne

The quickest way to insult a Mexican is to insinuate that Chili con Carne is a Mexican dish; the quickest way to insult a Texan is to add beans to your Chili con Carne.  The pure bred Texan version is allowed the occasional onion or tomato, but beans are a no-no. Why make so big a fuss about such an unpretentious dish?

San Antonio, TX lays claim to being the birthplace of Chili con Carne, according to food researcher, Linda Stradley in her expansive account of the murky myths and folklore surrounding this popular dish (see whatscookingamerica/net)

Chili historians claim that Chili con Carne originated with cowboys on the road, who would reconstitute their rations - dried slabs of beef - and make it more palatable by boiling up the beef in water flavored by chili peppers. 

The original Cowboys cheerleaders -- dig those pants. 
Delve into the origin of the dried chili powder however, and all hell breaks loose...no one seems to be able to agree who devised the powdered version which underpins most Chili con Carnes made at home today.

No matter.  The following recipe forwarded by our neighbor Dana's godmother is sure to upset any of our Texan readers.  It's barely recognizable as a Chili con Carne, but we can't wait to try it over the Thanksgiving Holidays!

Give thanks to Diana Charnok for her exciting rendition of  
Chili con Acorn Squash.

6 slices bacon
1 large yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeno pepper (or more to taste)
1 large bell pepper
2 Tbsp safflower oil
1 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
1 lb meat loaf mix (ground beef/veal/pork)
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp dry hot mustard
dash celery seeds
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
6 cups fresh plum tomatoes, crushed in your hands, with liquid
1 can each:  pinto, black, garbanzo and kidney beans with liquid
6 roasted and spiced acorn squash (instructions below)
Garnishes:  sour cream, pepitas (roasted seeds, see below), melted cheese, splash of beer

* Heat oil in large pot.  Add bacon, onion, garlic and peppers.  Cook 3 minutes. 
* In a separate pot, saute  Italian sausage  ground meat. 
* Drain most of the liquid from the meat. 
* When browned, mix the whole mess together in large pan and add wine, Worcestershire sauce, 
and seasonings.
* Simmer 10 minutes.
*Meanwhile, Squish tomatoes in your hands and add them to simmering pot. 
 *Add beans with liquid, and simmer all ingredients for 1 hour. 
*Scoop the chili into the prepared squash shells and serve with garnishes.
For  Pepitas: 
Cut each squash in half, remove seeds. 

Spread seeds on baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle seeds with cinnamon 
and nutmeg.  Roast at 350, stirring frequently, until toasted, approximately 10 minutes. 
For Squash:

Roast the halves, on baking sheets, cut side up, at 350 degrees, for 45 mins, or until squash is 
cooked through.
To serve: 
Load up the squash with your chili meat.  Top this concoction with sour cream, pepitas and a 
splash of beer  

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