Chili con Carne Recipe

by Chef Amanda

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In this post we’ll be sharing a Chili con carne (Beef Chili) recipe in a photo series with descriptions for the method and our chef’s secret ingredient.  

This recipe is very flexible and may serve up to 8 portions. You can use almost anything to substitute or increase this hearty one bowl meal that’s one of Gordon House’s favorite.  

Remember that many canned items may already contain salt and that salt concentrates as you cook it so try and salt your chili lightly as you go. 

Keep a spoon, try your food as much as possible and adjust seasoning to your taste – the best measure for heat is your own. 

As with many things, this always tastes better the next day but for that it needs to survive! After you serve and separate your portions for freezing, you have 2 hours to cool it to around 21*C (70*F), then put it in the fridge with an open lid so it cools down to 4*C (39*F). 

– about 1lb ground/minced beef (sub for pork, mix, turkey, chicken) 
– about 5 oz bacon (that’s about 1/3 of a 1lb package), diced (sub for any smoked sausage) 
– 2 cans of red kidney beans, rinsed (sub for any beans you’d like! All beans like chili)  
– 1 ½ onion (that’s about 2 cups), diced  
– 2 small carrots (that’s about 1 cup), diced 
– 1 large celery stalk (that’s about 1 cup), diced 
– 3 cloves of garlic, made small (chopped, minced, grinded, sliced, etc.) 
– cilantro, as much as you like, chop the stems for the stew and keep the leaves for finishing 
– tomato paste, 2 large teaspoons (sub for ½ can of crushed/diced tomato or passata) 
– bay leaf, about 1 large leaf or 2 small ones 
– cumin, about 1 ½ tablespoon  
– chili flakes, about 1 ½ teaspoon (sub for chipotle or chili powder, with caution) 
– smoked paprika, about 2 teaspoon 
– fennel seed, about 1 teaspoon 
– nutmeg ground, about 1 teaspoon 
– black pepper, about 5 grind turns or 1 teaspoon 
– salt, about 1 ½ tablespoon divided in pinches along the cooking and stewing 
– water, about 2 cups for the beans + 2 cups for diluting the chili 
– cheese! Added in the end, it makes a difference 
– chef’s secret ingredient, scroll down and check your pantry! 
– also, almost anything! Other veggies are more than welcome, other spices and peppers, chili is super versatile.  
Make sure you have everything you need – a large pot is needed, you’re gonna cook a big meal. We recommend using a spatula or wooden spoon to help you further on. Keep the meats in the fridge until it’s time to deal with them, at last. Wash your hands and all your produce, then proceed to peel. Once you decide which spices you’ll use, keep them at hand or have them mixed in a container. Take time to have your veggies cut before you move to the bacon, and cut it by last. Then, start:

Have about 1/3 of your rinsed beans mixed with 2 cups of water – you can choose to blend it or cook it and mash it in a small pot, whatever you choose the outcome should be a bean juice/soup/mash that will be your base. 

Bring your pot up to heat and add the bacon, keep on high (and keep an eye!) stirring lightly to help spread.  

Once it starts browning, add the onion and mix well – we want the brown bits as they add flavor, but don’t let it burn! The French call these bits “sucs” and we’ll deglaze them as we cook. 

As it softens, add the celery and garlic and cook it for about 3 minutes. Make sure to spread the celery around and use its watery consistency to get those sucs out. 

Add the carrots and cilantro stems, the bay leaf and about 1/3 of all your spices and salt. 


Take your meat out of the fridge and divide it in at least 2 parts.  
Keep your heat on medium high, move your sautée veg to one side of the pot and add the first half to the bottom.

The meat will fry a bit and then lose its water, and here you should add some of your spice mix and salt and keep tapping and spreading the meat to prevent chunks and to cook it uniformly. Then, mix it with the veg and move it to the other side, clearing the bottom for the second half. 

Repeat the process with tapping, spreading and seasoning. 

This is important for distributing the seasoning uniformly and for using the meat’s water to deglaze the bottom of the pot. 

Use your spatula or spoon and make your meat work for you, getting all those bits out – we’ll come to them again. Once you have it all together, add the tomato paste/tomato product and mix it all very well.  

At this point you should have you beans’ soup/juice/mash at hand and start adding it slowly, about ½ cup first, to help you loosen the brown bits from the bottom. Once again, make your meat work for you so don’t be afraid to stir vigorously and use the side of your spatula/spoon.

After adding all you bean juice/paste/mash, add the beans, the remainder of your spices, a good pinch of salt and about 1 cup of water – you’ll feel the thickness of your meal taking form. Reserve the other cup of water to dilute the chili to your taste. At this point I usually let it cook at a low heat for some 10 minutes and then move to the secret step. 

Yes! There is a secret ingredient to my chili and that is cacao, cocoa, or unsweetened chocolate. Both powder and piece will work as long as there’s absolutely no sugar added. Believe me, I’ve tried with different types of chocolate and if it seems strange to add chocolate, imagine sweet chocolate…. It’s something I’ve learned years ago from a Mexican chef and have applied since then – I sincerely recommend you try. Mexican cuisine is famous for many things, including their use of chocolate in savoury recipes and sauces – think mole, some of the best ones contain some chocolate in it. 

For this recipe amount, I recommend a full tablespoon, that should be sprinkled and then mixed into the chili.  

You’ll feel the smell of chocolate very strongly at the beginning and as it cooks and melts into the chili it dissipates like alcohol, leaving behind the twist in taste. I’d recommend not tasting it at this moment because the chocolate will overwhelm your senses. Let it cook a bit and taste it then. 

Because you’ve added the chocolate, you should keep stiring the chili at medium temperature for about 5 minutes, and then bring it to a boil.  

After you bring it to boil, reduce the heat to minimum, stir well and give it a try. Is it too chocolate-y? Cover for about 10 minutes. Stir again, check your seasoning, salt, and texture, how does it taste? If it needs more seasoning or water, stew it on low, covered, for another 10 minutes. 

We like to have some shredded cheese added to melt inside as we prepare to serve but we recommend skipping this if you plan to freeze part of you chili – you can always add it once you thaw your portion and bring it to boil.

This is our finalized chili – it should look glossy even without the cheese! It should smell delicious and make you crave it, like all food prepared with love and care – it’s gonna be great! 


You can serve it plain, with chips, with nachos/tortilla chips, with tortilla wraps, with green leafy salad, with fries/hash browns, with sour cream, with yogurt, with tomatoes and cilantro salad, with rice, with extra spicy hot burning sauce, with popcorn (yes, I know of stories), or pretty much anything you’d like!  

Let us know what you served your chili with! Please share pictures, subs, comments, we’d love to hear from you.