Chili Con Carne: Ancient Aztec Secret?

August 30, 2023

Chili Con Carne


Old Timey Recipes

About the Dish

Chili con carne is not really Southern, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying it! This spicy stew, Spanish for “chili with meat,” strongly resembles a popular Aztec dish from the 1500s. Its popularity in the U.S. can be attributed to the “Chili Queens,” working-class women in San Antonio, Texas, who sold chili-flavored beef stew in casual restaurants. During the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the San Antonio Chili Stand gave many Americans their first taste of the dish, helping it gain popularity. Chili parlors sprang up across the Southwest, and In 1977, the Texas Legislature designated chili con carne as the official state dish. Today, many regional variations exist, but at its core chili con carne is made with chili peppers, meat, tomatoes, and (often) kidney or pinto beans.
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Original Recipe

Recipe Source: Saints Preserved Emmanuel Episcopal Church Parish Cookbook, copyright 1980. The Emmanuel Episcopal Church is located in Athens, GA, and has been in service for more than 175 years. Its current building was constructed in 1899. If you’re roaming about Athens, it’s a great place to stop and take in the Victorian Gothic architecture, stained glass windows, and historical charm. The book I’m cooking from is the 1980 first revised edition of the 1979 printing


  • 1.5 lbs. top round, cubed for stew
  • ¾ T. Gebhart’s chili powder to taste
  • ¾ T. Tomato Ketchup, to taste
  • 1 lb. dried red kidney beans
  • Salt to Taste


Cook beans, beef, and chili powder in plenty of boiling water until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. Take out beef and shred with forks. Saute beef in butter in a skillet and put back with beans. Add ketchup and salt. Let simmer until ready to use. If it cooks down too much, add water. Serve over boiled rice.

How I Cooked It

The chili con carne recipe gives all the appearance of a simple, tried and true recipe for families. The few simple ingredients make it budget-friendly and easily customizable to your family’s tastes. The few changes I made were in the serving. I added my family’s traditional chili toppings, including chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream. I didn’t take a picture with the toppings, sorry. I cooked it in a dutch oven, but it would be a great crockpot dish for busy weekdays when you want to come home to dinner already cooked. My favorite part of family recipes are the things that are left out. I’m sure the writer thinks it is common knowledge or never bothered noting things like time. This recipe says to “simmer until ready to use.” I did my best to note how long it took to cook and how much salt I used, but some things like salt are personal preferences. My best advice is to taste, and if it needs salt, add more salt.


  • 2 lbs. Certified Angus beef stew meat
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Ketchup
  • 1 lb. dried red kidney beans
  • Salt to taste

Optional Toppings:

  • Shredded cheese
  • Chopped onion
  • Sour Cream
  • Chopped Cilantro


  • Wash and pick kidney beans.
  • Add the amount of water listed in the quick boil instructions on the kidney beans and bring to a boil.
  • Add the beans and beef stew meat to boiling water, cover with lid, and let simmer for 2 hours.
  • Remove meat and shred with a mixer or fork. Discard any fat.
  • Saute beef in butter until edges crisp up a bit, but not too much. Then return to beans.
  • Add chili powder, ketchup, and salt. Bring to a simmer and let cook until beans are tender, about another 2 hours. Taste occasionally to make sure enough salt was added.
This was enough for six servings. I cooked enough rice for six.
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