I recently read a recipe for Chili Con Carne that called for discarding the vegetables once the meat was cooked. Granted, the name of this classic Tex-Mex dish is not Chili Con Verduras but why in the world would you want to get rid of the things that give this dish so much flavor and texture? My philosophy? Never, ever throw away that which is entirely edible. Especially precious and delicious vegetables that until very recently were so hard to come by in the winter months when this warming comfort food is best served.
So, not only have I set out to create an easy and delicious recipe that did not contribute to food waste, but I also wanted one that was filling enough to be eaten without an accompanying side dish. Which is why you’ll find more vegetables than usual in this Chili recipe. The other hurdle I faced was that most Chili recipes include beans, which are legumes and thus are not technically paleo, but do a fairly good job of satiating us. Ask purists and they’ll tell you that Chili is never made with beans or other types of starch. I’ve never been one to play by the rules and can tell you now that I happen to love beans. It’s one of the foods I miss most. If you find yourself craving some starch you can absolutely add diced sweet potatoes towards the end of the cooking process. They would cook down to a soft and delicate consistency and if you use a Japanese yam it might mimic some of the starchiness you’d get from beans without imparting too much sweetness. This time I decided to keep the root veg out of the chili and I’m happy to report that the family was quite pleased with the results. Maybe next time I’ll add some yams because life is short and I’m crazy like that.
Cooking chili is not very different from other braising recipes. In fact, it’s almost identical to the way I cook my Whole 30 Mexican Braised Beef with Sweet Potato, my Mexican Chili Braised Short Ribs, and even the Taco Meat I use in my Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. The technique is to brown the meat first, then sauté the veg before adding dried spices. Follow with a braising liquid of choice and the browned meat. When you pair this tried-and-true method of cooking with great ingredients like dried, whole-chilies that have been steeping in a rich and delicious stock, you can hardly ever go wrong.
Give this recipe a go and let me know what you think in the comments below,
Paleo Chili Con Carne
2 lbs medium ground beef chuck or shoulder
1 large onion – diced
1 stalk celery – diced
1 carrot – diced
1 green bell pepper – deseeded and diced
1 poblano pepper – charred, skin removed, deseeded and diced.
1 zucchini – diced
1 cup cremini mushrooms (or favorite variety) – halved
5-6 cloves garlic – minced
1 28oz can fire-roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen has an organic variety with BPA-free cans)
28oz chicken or beef stock (preferably homemade)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 dried ancho chili
1 dried pasilla chili
1 dried cascabel chili
1 handful fresh parsley – some reserved for garnish
sliced avocado – for garnish
diced tomato – for garnish
diced red onion – for garnish
- Add the stock, ancho, pasilla and cascabel chilies to a saucepan and bring everything to a low boil. Reduce heat to the lowest setting, cover with a lid and let steep for 15-20 minutes or until chilies are soft and plump. Set aside and let cool.
- Char all sides of the poblano pepper (either on a gas burner or under the oven broiler), place in a bowl and cover with foil. Once cooled, peel, deseed, dice and set aside.
- Drizzle 1/2 tbsp avocado oil in a large Dutch/French oven and set over med-high heat. Working in batches, brown the ground beef. Try not to overcrowd the pot or the beef will steam rather than brown. Transfer beef to a bowl and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the onions, celery, carrot and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and sauté until translucent, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, poblano, and green pepper and sauté for another 6-8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, deseed and discard the stems of the steeped chilies but reserve the chili-infused stock. In a food processor or blender, blend the chilies and chili-infused water until smooth and creamy. Set aside for the moment.
- Season the sautéing veggies with the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Toast the spices for 60 seconds while stirring constantly.
- Deglaze with the blended chili puree, scraping off any brown-bits that have formed on the bottom and sides of the pot. Add the canned tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, honey and browned beef. Bring everything to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
- Cook for at least 1.5 hours on the stovetop or in a 350F oven. Before serving, add the chopped parsley and stir through. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as required.
- Ladle the Chili Con Carne into individual mugs or bowls. Garnish with sliced avocado, diced onion, tomato, and fresh parsley or cilantro.