(Improvised?) Chili Con Carne Recipe

There’s half a kilo of ground beef in the fridge.

There’s canned pink beans sitting on the counter.

I have no tomato paste and cumin.

I have nothing else in the pantry (unless I go out and purchase something).

The answer is simple — I will improvise a chili con carne recipe.

I have been cooking chili con carne for several years now and this has been a staple with rice, nachos and taco shells. Everyone who tastes it loves the damn thing that one of the Team Leaders in my past life asked for my recipe.

Today I deviate from my original recipe, the recipe that has put my cousin to shame (and I tell you, she does a decent chili con carne too) as I rummage our counter and our fridge for a good substitute for tomato paste and cumin.

Was the result spectacular?

Hell it was!

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Chili con carne rice topping garnished with red chili, green chili and shards of cheddar cheese.

Ingredients:

  1. Ground beef
  2. Pink beans (maybe you can substitute pork and beans? For this recipe I used this)
  3. Garlic (whole and chopped finely)
  4. Palm oil
  5. Salt
  6. Pepper
  7. Sugar
  8. Star anise
  9. Bay leaf
  10. Ground oregano
  11. Cayenne pepper
  12. Ketchup
  13. Curry powder
  14. Butter

Yeah, you are correct, substituting tomato paste and cumin are ketchup and curry powder oh thank goodness I still have them at home!

The ketchup I used was UFC banana ketchup. Yup, banana ketchup! If you are a reader from overseas, this kind of ketchup is popular here in the Philippines maybe because it is less pricey than tomato ketchup? Or maybe it’s also because we Filipinos have been accustomed to the tang of banana ketchup versus the sharpness of tomato ketchup.

As for the curry powder, I tweaked this one a bit. With the store bought curry powder as base I added paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, pepper and sugar. Tossed everything together and kept in a plastic container.

Procedure:

  1. Saute garlic in hot pan with palm oil.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly.
  3. Add the spices: star anise, bay leaf, ground oregano, curry powder, cayenne pepper. Mix and let it simmer for some two to three minutes.
  4. Add the ketchup, mix. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. For extra kick, add more cayenne pepper.
  5. Now here is the fun part. I saw that gorgeous looking butter in the fridge and thought hmmm why not give my chili con carne a nice sheen to it? And so I did! Add two table spoons of butter.
  6. Serve hot with rice or nachos.

Enjoy!

Meatballs (with potato wedges) in home made tomato sauce

When I was working in Makati, I did my best to wake up as early as I could to cook my baon (packed lunch). Aside from it saved me money it gave me free rein with how the dish would look, taste and fare in quantity i.e. will I cook just for myself or will it be good for sharing within a small group (sentiments outlined here).

One of the dishes I adored was this meatball (100% beef of course!) dish in my “home made” spicy tomato sauce. Simple and yummy.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  1. Ground beef
  2. Minced garlic
  3. Salt and pepper

For the home made tomato sauce:

  1. Tomato
  2. Basil
  3. Garlic
  4. Onion
  5. Paprika
  6. Cayenne pepper
  7. Water
  8. Sat and pepper (sugar, optional)

Add on – potato (wedges)

Procedure:

  1. Mix all the meatball ingredients. One tip is to test how the meat tastes by frying a small amount of meatball. Adjust taste to your own liking. Fry all the meatballs made then set to room temperature.
  2. Cut your potato (or potatoes) into wedges and fry. While hot, season with some salt and pepper.
  3. For the sauce, saute onion and garlic. Then add the tomato and the basil. Dust some paprika and cayenne pepper. Stir. Add some water and bring to a boil/reduce. Season with salt and pepper (optional: sugar for umami).
  4. Once the tomato has wilted and the sauce has thickened a bit, add the meatballs and potatoes.
  5. Simmer for some 5-10 minutes then serve.
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Meatballs with potato wedges in home made tomato sauce

This is absolutely good for sharing! If you had enough of all the meatball boredom, I suggest you have this served. Oh, and you can top it with some grated cheese too. How good is that?

~Photo taken using my now missing Olympus point and shoot digital camera.