This is simply one of those dishes that, sooner or later, is guaranteed to start an extremely heated row in any gathering of cooks, one that will, without doubt, eventually degenerate into name calling, and ultimately thrown objects and fisticuffs.
Genuine Mexican, or a Tex-Mex creation? With or without beans? Some even question the role of tomatoes in the dish, before we even get to type and amount of chillies to be used, or the “correct” seasonings and spices.
I have a cookbook that claims that it is authentically Mexican, if made with cubed beef rather than minced or ground beef. That recipe also sanctions the use of beans.
Whatever the controversies regarding authenticity and so on, it’s still a damn tasty dish, and no mistake, guv’nor.
From a Paleo perspective, the only real obstacle was the red kidney beans, horrible little legumes that they are.
When I was cooking Yucatan Fish the other night, I started to think that pumpkin seeds kind of look like slightly flatter kidney beans. The consistency wouldn’t be a million miles away either. Hmmmmm…
And so it came to pass, mes braves, that I decided there and then that I would see how well pumpkin seeds worked as a drop-in replacement for kidney beans in a chilli con carne.
Very well indeed, as it turned out…
Paleo Chilli Con Carne
- 850g minced beef
- 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
- 2 hot green chillies, seeds left in, finely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 500g pack chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- fresh coriander (cilantro)
- Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. Add the onions, and fry until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the chillies, garlic, dried oregano, dried coriander (cilantro) leaves, cumin powder, cinnamon, and the smoked Spanish paprika to the pan. Stir well, and continue to stir fry for a further 3 minutes, adding a splash of water if anything threatens to stick.
- Add the minced beef to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir well, and continue to stir fry until the beef has lost its raw, pink colour, about 10 minutes or so.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and the pumpkin seeds. Stir well, and bring up to a low simmer.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is thoroughly cooked and the sauce has reduced down somewhat, about 30 minutes or so.
- Serve with cauliflower rice, and garnished with fresh coriander (cilantro), and lemon edges.
Mrs. Paleovirtus had one small criticism – she would have liked the pumpkin seeds to have been a little bit softer, so next time around I intend to introduce them earlier, probably at the same time as the onions.
For the sake of my womenfolk I purposely toned down the amount of chilli peppers I used. If I’d have been given a free rein two nice, large, larva hot Scotch Bonnets / Habaneros would have gone in.
As with all similar dishes, this one will taste even better if left in the fridge overnight once cooked.