Dinner Tonight: Mom’s Chili con Carne

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a love affair with Southwestern food and culture. Having family from Arizona, I grew up with tostadas, tacos, tamales and bean burritos as regular meals for dinner. So when the air starts to get a little brisk, I immediately make a big pot of chili.  This recipe is my mother’s recipe, but I’ve modified it a bit over the years. It’s also the first meal I ever learned how to cook!

I took this photo out of the backseat of our car at sunrise in February, 2010.

The key ingredient though? Really good quality chili powder. Not to sound like an infomercial or anything, but anytime I’m in Arizona, I make sure to stop at a local supermarket to pick up a carton of Santa Cruz chili powder. It’s also available online here.

The Santa Cruz Chili Co sign outside their store in Tumacacori, Arizona


Also, it’s taken me awhile to figure out just the right amount of heat is needed in the chili. I made this chili for our Superbowl party two years ago and it was way too spicy for most of our guests. For me, I’ve found that 3 tablespoons of chili powder plus a chipotle pepper adds the right touch of spice, smoke and flavor.

I also highly recommend making this a day ahead. It tastes good the first day but even better the next day after the chili has spent the night in the fridge. This is great for leftovers.

Mom’s Chili con Carne

Serves 6-8


  •  2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ large onion, minced
  • 1-1/2-2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 Qt canned crushed or whole tomatoes
  • 4 cups of dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-4 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 canned chipotle chili pepper, minced
  • 1 T adobo sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper


Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until onions turn slightly transparent. Add ground beef cook until beef is browned.

Then add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Then, cover pot, leaving a slight opening for steam, and simmer on low for 1-1/2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Serve with a tortilla and enjoy!

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