I inherited some of my mother's recipes, and somehow these days they just don't taste the same. Of course, I live at 5,000 feet - she lived at sea level. But this evening I gave it one more try, because how can you mess up the stew she called "Chile Con Carne"? Not that any Southwesterner would recognize it as such, but I loved it as a child. So let me walk you all through the process - it's as much "redacting the recipe" as any attempt to use a medieval cookbook!
1 1/2 cups ground beef.
**Redaction: NOT "lean" or "very lean" or "ultra-lean" or bison, turkey, or ostrich. Plain old ground beef as it was back in the day. There are only two ways you can get it. At the supermarket, the stuff that comes in rolls and is labeled "ground beef" is the right mix of fat. Alas, it almost certainly contains Pink Slime. Back in the day it didn't. NOT because "all the meat was purer then, girls were girls and men were men..." but because that level of processing was too much work at the time.
1 tsp salt. Dash of pepper, cloves, cinnamon, allspice. [Told you this wasn't Southwestern}. BROWN until crumbled.
**Redaction: She didn't say in what. She didn't have to. Use a cast-iron skillet. No extra fat needed. And note: the teflon-lined jumbo cooker didn't work as well, I think because it's not designed for hot heats. The skillet is. And the old-fashioned meat crumbled when browned, unlike the "mega-lean" stuff.
Put the meat in a large kettle. We all have a bean pot, don't we? I do!
BROWN in the fat from the meat 1 large chopped onion and 3-4 talks of celery chopped. [No leaves. This isn't veggie soup.] Add to the meat [in the kettle] and simmer on low heat.
**Redaction: in the cast iron skillet, they WILL brown. Pour off the extra fat into an empty can and stick the can in the fridge. When it's full, just throw it away. Quick, easy, does not clog the drain.
ADD: [into the kettle] l large can of tomatoes cut up, ~ 3 cups [and] 3 cans of kidney beans [I use pinto beans] ~ 3 1/2 - 5 1/4 cups.
**Redaction: today's large can is 28 ounces and the regular can, 14.5 ounces. Use one of each for the tomatoes. 3 cans of the beans work quite nicely.
SIMMER indefinitely, stirring occasionally. Tastes as good if not better warmed up the first day.
***And there you have it. 2012, a culinary odyssey. Serve with corn bread, any of the southern corn breads like hush puppies, fried corn grits patties, or Indian oven bread is really good.