27 Jan2008


I was thinking about childhood comfort foods the other day and realized that I used to love it when my mom cooked up a pot of Chile (or Chili) Con Carne. Literally translated as “Peppers with Meat”, my mom’s version was immediately notable for the lack of heat or peppers, as she didn’t like them. So this dish should have been called just “Carne” in our home. But then she added red kidney beans. And it had tomato sauce, and other spices with minimal heat. I have no idea where she picked up this recipe and why it became such a favorite in our home until you deconstruct the dish and realize it can (and often was in Manila) be made with relatively economical ground beef and readily available dried beans. It was tomatoey (almost sloppy joe-ish or ketchup-ish) and paired brilliantly with white rice. You could cook up a big batch and leftovers tasted better and better as the days passed. I had never cooked the dish myself, so I resolved to do so… if I could find some decent kidney beans. Oh, and one more thing, the tastebuds must be hereditary, to some extent, as The Kid loves chili, and orders bowls of it at Chili’s, but it has no beans…


Back from the grocery with the beans, I soaked a couple of cups of beans in water overnight. The next day, I heated up a large Le Creuset enameled pot, threw in a little vegetable oil, two chopped onions, 6 cloves of garlic chopped and sauteed that for a few minutes. I then added about 1.5 kilos of lean ground beef and cooked that until the excess moisture from the meat (have you ever wondered why ground meat here is so darned watery???) had evaporated. I splashed in about a cup or two of red wine and stirred for a few minutes. Then I added lots of chopped canned plum tomatoes (some Texan purists claim there is NO tomato in chili con carne), tomato paste, salt, pepper, cumin, chile powder, paprika, bay leaves, a stick of cinammon, etc. Let that simmer for about 30 minutes until thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick after 15-20 minutes of simmering. I added two chopped siling labuyo but that wasn’t hot enough, so I suggest 4-5 siling labuyo instead. Add in the soaked beans and let this simmer another 20-30 minutes until everything is tender and has just the right moisture levels. I turned off the heat at around noon, and let the chile sit there all afternoon, covered. Just before dinner, I skimmed a lot of the solidified fat on the surface of the dish, then turned the heat back on to warm it up and served it for dinner. I realized my concoction, without recipe, was a more chi-chi version of mom’s dish, with a lot more spices and a lot more spicy. I like the beans, but the Kid and Mrs. MM takes them out. It was perfect with rice. Ah, another childhood favorite reincarnated…



  1. Maria Clara says:

    You got the authentic Texas Chili Con Carne with all the spices you used. Hot bowl of it with lots of grated cheddar cheese is good enough to warm me up on a cold night. It is also great with hot dogs in a bun with lots of grated cheddar cheese which they call Chili dog. It is also great with hamburger and they call it hamburger con chili and when you bite to it the chili oozes out and drips through your chin – that’s the prize of the deal. French fries are also great topped with chili and again grated cheddar cheese. Corn chips with chili and grated cheese is always a Superbowl favorite entrée or they call it nacho chili and iced-cold beer.

    Jan 27, 2008 | 9:31 am


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  3. chunky says:

    you read my mind…every sunday morning, i list my weekly menu and i just wrote chili con carne. it’s a good thing you wrote about it so i can get more ideas. by the way, i serve mine with cornbread which we put on top of the chili before eating. it will absorb the chili and boy, is it delicious! yeah, and lots of cheddar to finish this bad boy!

    Jan 27, 2008 | 9:48 am

  4. kulasa says:

    Yum yum. Love this dish. We had this for New Year’s lunch and my sister did the dish but no cinammon. I saw on TV that they some people add pieces of chocolate but I can’t recall having tried that version We’d add slices of green bell pepper though. Served with fresh white onions on the side. Lots of rice and there goes the diet.

    Jan 27, 2008 | 10:25 am

  5. Jasmine says:

    I saw the pics and I have to eat chili con carne for lunch today. Thank you for the pictures and the descriptions. I have always enjoyed your site.

    Jan 27, 2008 | 10:34 am

  6. choy says:

    make mine with buttered rice. happiness!

    Jan 27, 2008 | 12:35 pm

  7. elaine says:

    We have always loved chili con carne. It was childhood favorite and is still being enjoyed today. We make ours with red beans and ground beef but our dish is on the saucy side. Lots of chili powder and pepper. I usually eat this alone as the beans is already filling for me.

    Jan 27, 2008 | 2:45 pm

  8. millety says:

    that’s also comfort food for me, and favorite in my home. chopped sweet onions and grated cheddar cheese on top, chunky fresh tomato salsa and corn chips on the side, everybody happy!

    i have a shortcut for the beans, no need for pre-soaking: just wash and bring the beans to a boil in plenty of water. keep at a rolling boil for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and keep the lid on. cool for about two hours, then check to make sure you have enough water. bring to a boil again, keep boiling for another 15 minutes or so, and it’s done!

    Jan 27, 2008 | 3:25 pm

  9. siopao says:

    This recipe is similar to the one I made except that instead of red wine I used Cerveza Negra and the spices include star anise. Finish off with a few squares of dark(70% cacao)chocolate and then add finely chopped cilantro just before serving.


    Jan 27, 2008 | 3:53 pm

  10. The Steak Lady says:

    Haha, just came from lunch at Chili’s where i enjoyed a nice bowl of their signature dish :-) nice recipe MM, i’ll try it sometime. Thanks!

    Jan 27, 2008 | 5:00 pm

  11. Gigi says:

    I can’t remember which show in Lifestyle Network it was – I think it was the “Best of ____” (Blank for place) where this Texan gentleman whispered that the secret to his chili was Hershey’s Kisses! He’d add I dunno how much he dropped into the stuff but there. This post echoes siopao’s post on putting chocolate (though I can understand putting in dark but not milky Kisses)…

    Jan 27, 2008 | 5:57 pm

  12. Jennifer says:

    The chili at Chili’s has no beans? Will have to try that. I don’t like beans myself. :)

    Jan 27, 2008 | 7:20 pm

  13. chi says:

    Jennifer, just so you know, the true Texas chili has no beans, nor does it have ground beef. It is usually chunks of chuck in a very rich, thick, gravy. I like mine with cornbread, warm Greek pita, or warm flour tortillas – YUM! I usually make a vat and freeze in solo portions.

    Gigi, funny you should mention chocolate. There are a lot of Mexican dishes, like mole for instance, that use chocolate. Chocolate & chili is a match made in heaven. Get this: the next time you make a chocolate cake, brownies, anything that’s mostly chocolate, add a pinch of cayenne and taste the difference! It really makes the chocolate pop!

    Jan 28, 2008 | 5:44 am

  14. Beth says:

    Hi MM!Just a note–you said that after turning the heat off at noon you let the chile sit all afternoon COVERED.I remembered what my elders used to cautioned us–dont cover a HOT dish especially one made with tomatoes–it spoils easily!You have to cool it down first,let the steam off before covering.You have one yummy looking chile there!For left over ground beef, I usually make a fast chile using canned pork and beans and adding the spices for better flavor.

    Jan 28, 2008 | 10:42 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Beth, yes, of course, let the steam out then cover with a gap…just so the flying bugs, if any, don’t commit hara kiri in your chili… :) chi, yes, texas chilli is made with chunks of beef, not mince meat. That’s what happens when there are more cows than humans in the vicinity. And yes, there are several versions with chocolate in it. I read somewhere chili’s humble beginnings in Mexico were actually in the form of free bar food. Leftover beef dishes were all cooked up into large cauldrons of chili with lots of spices and that was laid out for patrons to munch on as they downed beers… kinda like our salty/spicy peanuts today. Jennifer, yes, o beans and totally mild, ask them for hot sauce if you want some zing. Gigi, yup, I would think a bit of tablea rather than Hershey’s! Siopao, your version sounds great! millety, I forgot the cheese! Jasmine, you are welcome! Kulasa, yup rice for me too, not bread or chips!

    Jan 28, 2008 | 10:50 am

  16. Beth says:

    TIP–after I cooked a dish which I wont be eating right away,I usually put the hot pan on a wire rack and cover it with the MESH PLASTIC FOOD COVER or even that wire mesh contraption( that keeps food from splattering when you fry?) to keep flying bugs out and at the same time letting the steam out while cooling!

    Jan 28, 2008 | 11:37 am

  17. Lady Madonna says:

    Here in Cincinnati,Ohio – People love pouring this over a bowl of hot spaghetti noodles and topping it with diced onions and finely shredded cheddar cheese. They call them Chili-Spaghetti – yum yum!!!!

    Jan 29, 2008 | 12:20 am

  18. star says:

    “have you ever wondered why ground meat here is so darned watery???”

    i did, and once i asked the lady at the meat section why so.. she said the meat is chilled/frozen at their storage freezer (or in my case at home too) and i suppose the water is due to the moisture it absorbed as well as the high fat content.

    i usually opt for the ground sirloin, a little more pricey but i get more meat and less oil.

    Jan 29, 2008 | 7:44 am

  19. Blaise says:

    I love this dish but at home, we do not call it Chili Con Carne..

    Apparently, I don’t know what it is called.. But it is a favorite.. :)

    Jan 29, 2008 | 12:00 pm

  20. Westy says:

    What a timely post! I too have the groceries for chili on my shopping list to have for those dropping by for the Super Bowl on Sunday. I’ll make it Friday night so it has time to develop flavors.

    Being a native Californian instead of a native Texan, I always chuckle over The Laws of Chili which the food police enforce. I only have one law–it must taste good, and your version looks hearty, just like chili should, MM.

    The recipe I use is “Chasen’s Famous Chili,” cut from the Culinary SOS column in the Los Angeles Times around the time the fabled Hollywood establishment closed. The preamble to the recipe states: “As a young starlet, Barbra Streisand kept it refrigerated, bedside, while Liz Taylor had it shipped to every set for lunch – that’s how popular Chasen’s chili has been with the Hollywood set. Following is the recipe for the home kitchen.”

    I searched the web for a link to share the recipe, and what’s at this link is VERY close to what appeared in the newspaper.


    The only things different is that my copy starts with how to prepare the dish using dried pinto beans instead of the canned kidney beans, and it lists 2 tablespoons of salt, instead of the 2 teaspoons of salt in the online version.

    The pork in the recipe works very well. The finished product is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Perhaps it’s because of the stick of butter in it. ;)

    Feb 1, 2008 | 11:36 am

  21. Maripi de Leon says:

    Hello, Mr. Market Man! Your chili really looks delicious! Just wanted to ask, what brand of canned plum tomatoes did you use, and how much does it cost? Would it be possible to use fresh native tomatoes instead? Also, where do you buy cinnamon sticks? I’ve been wanting to try some other recipes with cinnamon sticks but couldn’t seem to find any in the supermarkets I typically go to. I hope you don’t mind all the questions! =)

    Feb 6, 2008 | 9:03 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    Maripi, I use several brands of italian and sometimes spanish canned whole plum tomatoes, available at most large groceries. A can can cost from PHP50-80 I think. I am not in my kitchen as I answer this so I can’t be more specific. You can buy cinnamon sticks at spice shops like Flavors n spices in MarketMarket or some better groceries. S&R sometimes has bulk spices as well.

    Feb 7, 2008 | 10:06 am

  23. ben says:

    Ahhhh so many versions of chili but there is one trick no one mentioned yet and that is you mash up the meat of a ripe mango or two and add it to the recipe after the meat is cooked but before you add the tomato and spices. It makes the ground meat, especially if you are using cubed meat, wonderfully smooth and tender. Also, the sweetness of the mango has a fresher, lighter flavor than if you use chocolate or hershey kisses. 2/3 cup of mashed papaya also works well. I usually serve it with rice but sometimes I go for egg noddles! Love the chili talk.

    Feb 11, 2008 | 2:43 am

  24. Ana says:

    I am wondering where I can buy cornbread? I’ve been looking for it in several groceries, but cannot find it. Furthermore, where can I also get cornmeal?


    Jan 3, 2009 | 1:43 pm

  25. edelweiza says:

    i’ve long been searching for a good chili con carne recipe…something better than Wendy’s.haha.this looks yummy! will try your recipe at home soon. thanks for sharing. :)

    Jan 15, 2009 | 2:54 pm


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